Rezoning for housing sought

January 18, 1995|By Mark Guidera and Sherry Joe | Mark Guidera and Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writers

Two Howard County-based partnerships are seeking to rezone land near Jessup so they can build up to 264 homes in the heart of the county's industrial belt.

The project would be constructed on a site that Arnold Sagner, a managing partner of one of the groups, argued last summer might be rendered useless for development because it was so close to a proposed waste transfer station. At the time, he said the partnership was planning to build warehouse and distribution buildings on the site.

Blue Stream Limited Partnership and Elk Partnership now seek to have almost 34 acres of a 79-acre site rezoned as residential property, county records show. The two groups argue that the site is appropriate for affordable housing. The land currently is zoned for light industry.

Mr. Sagner did not return phone calls last week or this week to discuss his rezoning request. David Carney, an Ellicott City lawyer representing the partnership in the rezoning request, also did not return phone calls Monday or yesterday.

But Richard Story, the county's economic development coordinator, is concerned that the county could lose vacant industrial land.

"We would like to preserve, as much as possible, the industrial and commercial sectors of the county," said Mr. Story, executive director of the county's Economic Development Authority, a business-government partnership that promotes job retention and growth. "What industrial inventory we have left is precious."

Mr. Story said he did not specifically oppose the rezoning proposal. But he expressed concern that loss of commercial and industrial development sites along the Interstate 95 corridor could mean the loss of potential jobs.

Businesses along Baltimore-Washington Boulevard "are our primary employment areas," Mr. Story said. "I would rue the additional loss of industrial land for nonindustrial use."

The undeveloped site is bordered by Port Capital Drive and Deep Run stream to the south and north, and U.S. Route 1 and I-95 to the west and east.

According to documents filed with their rezoning request, the two business partnerships would build what they called affordable housing units, although they gave no price details.

In mid-July of 1994, Sagner said warehouse and commercial distribution facilities were planned for the property.

But later that month, Mr. Sagner warned that plans to develop an industrial park on the land would be ruined by county approval of a waste transfer station proposed by Browning-Ferris Industries. Mr. Sagner later worked out an accommodation with BFI, and the waste disposal company has since received the go-ahead for its project.

The landowners now say their property should be rezoned for housing because the county Zoning Board rezoned a nearby site for housing last year.

That rezoning, Blue Stream's owners argue, opened the door to residential development in the area dominated by trucking companies, distribution facilities and small manufacturing businesses. Several old mobile home parks are the only other nearby residential properties.

The partnerships also say in their request that they might be required by the county to build an industrial access road through their property once the residential development was built, but argue that such a road would be inappropriate.

The county Planning and Zoning Department sometime this month will review the rezoning request and make a recommendation to the Planning Board, which then will schedule a public hearing on the request.

Should the Planning Board reject the request, the partnership could appeal the decision to the County Council, which sits as the Zoning Board.

If the rezoning is approved, the partnership still would have to submit detailed information about the project for final county approval.

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