After winning concessions from the Rouse Co. on a 727-home development in Kendall Ridge, Columbia's Long Reach village board dropped plans to appeal the county Planning Board's decision to approve the development.
The village board had decided earlier this month to file the appeal, saying plans for one of east Columbia's last residential developments included inadequate parkland and too many small homesites.
But Tuesday, representatives of the village board and its nonprofit village association walked part of the 145-acre site with Rouse planners, who showed them where the company could level parkland to provide informal playing fields
The company also agreed to provide more open space to complete a pathway system and to eliminate 10 homesites of 6,000 square feet or less and replace them with about six larger lots.
So, on the eve of Friday's deadline for the appeal, village board members agreed in a telephone poll not to appeal, based on the assurances in letters from Rouse executives.
"We're happy that we got some changes," said village board Chairwoman Cecilia Januszkiewicz. "The board decided that what the Rouse Co. had offered to us was justification for us not to file the appeal."
David Forester, a Rouse Co. vice president, also welcomed the agreement.
"We're pleased to move forward and spend our time on refining our plan rather than going to the Board of Appeals," he said. "We're delighted that we could reach an accommodation."
Long Reach residents have fought the development, known as Kendall Ridge III, since summer.
More than 100 of them voiced opposition then to one of the development's components, Streamwood, a community of 64 townhouses to be sold or rented to moderate- and low-income families. Streamwood would be built by the nonprofit Enterprise Foundation, created by Columbia founder James W. Rouse and his wife, Patty, to promote the development of affordable housing.
The land for Kendall Ridge III was originally planned for business development, but in 1990 the Rouse Co. convinced the county Zoning Board to allow residential development instead.
The development's current plans call for 527 townhouses, condominiums and apartments and nearly 200 single-family homes, bordering a new section of Snowden River Parkway between Routes 108 and 175.
While the Long Reach village board's original decision to appeal proved effective in winning changes to the Rouse plan, it would have been difficult to overturn the Planning Board's decision.
If it had appealed, the village would have had to prove that the Planning Board's decision was "clearly erroneous," "arbitrary and capricious" or illegal. Appeals are rare, and reversals almost unheard of.
The last appeal of a major Planning Board decision on Columbia came in 1990, after the board approved what is now called the Columbia Restaurant Park, near the proposed Kendall Ridge III development.
The hearings for the so-called Benson Business Center -- which residents feared would bring traffic jams, crime, trash and obtrusive lighting -- brought out hundreds of opponents to hearings before the Planning Board, which approved the plans, and before the appeals board, which upheld the decision.