Crowding at Forest Hill Elementary could delay a proposed development

January 08, 1995|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

A proposed development of 210 homes in Forest Hill may be the first subdivision in Harford County to be denied preliminary approval by county planning officials because of overcrowded schools in the area.

Architects of the proposed subdivision, known as Deer Spring, were reminded during a formal review Wednesday by the county's Development Advisory Committee that because enrollment at Forest Hill Elementary is more than 20 percent over acceptable capacity, a moratorium on subdivision approval would remain in effect in that school district until construction of a new elementary school is approved.

A commercial or residential subdivision in the county must have preliminary plan approval before a grading permit or building permit can be issued for the site and before the plat, or official site plan, can be recorded in the courthouse.

The moratorium in the Forest Hill school district stems from three-part adequate public facilities laws meant to control Harford's residential growth.

The laws, which relate to schools, roads and water and sewerage, were enacted in the last two years in an effort to prevent overdevelopment in areas where public facilities were not keeping pace.

47-acre site

Deer Spring, proposed by owner-developer Andrew Klein, would built on 47 acres on the south side of Route 23, just east of Route 24. The proposal calls for 138 townhouses and 72 condominiums.

Tony McClune, head of the Development Advisory Committee, said the planned Forest Lakes Elementary, which the county hopes to open in September 1996, will eventually relieve overcrowding in the Forest Hill attendance district and result in a lifting of the moratorium.

But the state Board of Public Works last month denied a county request for $3.3 million in construction money for the planned 600-student-capacity school. Instead, the board authorized money for a 440-student school.

Donald R. Morrison, a schools spokesman, said the county Board of Education is appealing that decision and would go before the Board of Public Works again Jan. 23 to re- argue its case.

He said that if the state board agrees this time, the school, proposed for the area southeast of the Route 23-24 intersection, could still be completed on schedule for a fall 1996 opening.

Mr. Morrison said the school board plans to show the state board that the new school will relieve overcrowding not only at Forest Hill Elementary but also at four other elementaries in a contiguous area, including Prospect Mill, Bel Air, Homestead-Wakefield and Hickory.

He said five overcrowded schools plus projected population increases from three housing developments that are already under construction in Forest Hill -- Spenceola Farms, Durham Manor and Forest Lakes -- should more than justify the need for the Forest Lakes school.

Arden Holdredge, acting director of planning and zoning, said Deer Spring can continue to move toward plan approval, but if the moratorium is not lifted the subdivision will have to go on a waiting list for preliminary plan approval.

Deer Spring was one of two new residential developments and three commercial projects considered last week by the advisory committee, which includes representatives from county and state agencies involved with planning, health, highways and public works.

The committee also reviewed plans for Quail Creek, a residential community of 15 homes proposed for the southeast side of the intersection of Creswell and Nova Scotia roads in Creswell.

The single-family homes there would be situated on lots ranging in size from 1.7 acres to 7.9 acres on a 108-acre parcel being developed by Harold E. Smith.

No public water

The area is not served by public water and sewerage.

Residences would have individually drilled wells and private septic systems.

Commercial site plans the committee reviewed last week included a proposed gasoline station and car wash in Riverside, a furniture store in Forest Hill and a restaurant and retail building on Bel Air South Parkway.

The car-care facility would be situated on the west side of Riverside Parkway, southeast of Policy Drive. The plan calls for a four-bay self-serve car wash, a convenience store and gasoline pumps.

J. Robert Martin is proposing the 15,000-square-foot furniture store on a 1.3-acre lot in the Forest Hill Business Airpark on the south side of Jarrettsville Road, west of Commerce Road.

The commercial building proposed for the Bel Air South complex, which is being developed by James Lambdin, would be located on the north side of Bel Air South Parkway, west of Route 24 and east of a Bob Evans restaurant that is under construction.

The 6,440-square-foot facility has been proposed for "mixed use," which its engineers said would likely mean a combination of restaurant and retail establishments.

Planning Department representative Kelly Williams said the building would house no more than five individual tenants.

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