Lessons of Kendall Ridge

November 28, 1994

The Howard County Planning Board, doing the only thing it could, last week approved the final development plans for a new section of Columbia's Kendall Ridge, over the objections of the Long Reach village board.

The only question before the planning body was whether blueprints submitted by the Rouse Co., the project's developer, mirrored plans approved in 1990 and 1993.

In 1990, village officials supported the county Planning Board's actions, which changed 145 acres slated for commercial and industrial use to a site for more than 700 multi- and single-family homes. Since then, however, village officials have raised numerous objections to the plan, most of them having to do with the project's density and use of open space. To put it plainly, the objections came too late.

But that should not be surprising. It is the nature of development that those who were not in on the original planning or oblivious to its consequences often become alarmed once the project nears actual construction.

The residents of Kendall Ridge, already concerned about Rouse's proposed low-income development at Streamwood, came to view the entire project as just another threat to their quality of life. In fact, Planning Board members publicly chastised the Rouse Co. last week about the quality of its Kendall Ridge plan, noting that it failed to live up to the company's standards on previous projects. Technically, however, the plan passed muster. Village officials have the option of taking their case to the Board of Appeals, but they will most likely lose if they do.

For those Kendall Ridge residents who realized too late how the new development plan would affect them, all of this is understandably difficult to swallow. Not to rub salt in their wounds, but it is important to remember that when purchasing a home, it is incumbent on the buyer to research land records and planning documents that would shed light on changes already in the pipeline for that community. And once settled in, it helps to keep abreast of developments by reading community and legal notices.

The residents of Kendall Ridge didn't do that, and they paid the price. Still, theirs is a fine neighborhood that, when complete, will be quite similar to the rest of Columbia. There is more to community than the density of the housing or the location of its parks.

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