Developer cited on open space provision Hampstead claims Hill in violation of Farms IV project

November 16, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A week after pulling developer Martin K. P. Hill's building permits because of storm water problems, Hampstead has cited him for being short by more than 6 acres on the required open space for his proposed 220-new house project, North Carroll Farms IV.

Cornelius M. "Neil" Ridgely, the town manager and zoning administrator, notified Mr. Hill by certified letter yesterday that the proposed subdivision apparently violates the Hampstead Town Code requiring 25 percent of the total acreage within a planned unit development to be set aside as open space.

Mr. Ridgely said a report by Group Hanover Inc., a Pennsylvania-based engineering consultant, showed that plans for Section IV of the 65-acre project allow 17.66 acres for open space, but nearly 8 acres are encumbered by utility easements.

According to the town code, the open space "shall not include streets, off-street parking, or utility easements," Mr. Ridgely said.

The net difference of serviceable open space, 9.71 acres, falls short of the 16.25 acres needed to comply with the town's zoning requirements, Mr. Ridgely said.

Mr. Hill, who has built about 800 homes in Hampstead in the past decade, said he could not comment on the alleged violations because he had only just received the town's letter. "I have sent a copy [of the letter] to my engineers," he said. "They are researching it to see if the [town's] numbers are accurate."

Mr. Hill received final approval for his proposed subdivision in August 1994, nearly a year before most of Hampstead's current officials took office last spring.

Last week, Hampstead of-ficials rescinded 50 building permits that would have allowed Mr. Hill to begin building houses at North Carroll Farms IV. They cited potential drinking water contamination and unacceptable levels of storm runoff in a town park.

The temporary order has barred Mr. Hill from obtaining the already approved building permits until county inspectors and environmental officials certify that storm water management systems are acceptable, the water quality in a well provided by the builder to serve the project meets all "primary and secondary" drinking water standards, and the state Department of Transportation tells the town under what conditions it will approve the Farm Woods Lane railroad crossing.

Last fall, a citizens group protested approval of the North Carroll Farms IV project by Hampstead's Board of Zoning Appeals.

After the zoning board denied the group's appeal, the citizens took the case to Circuit Court. A hearing is scheduled Nov. 29.

Mr. Ridgely said the review of the designated open space at North Carroll Farms IV is not aimed at Mr. Hill.

"We are reviewing all of the planned unit developments under way, and some of the others may have open space violations as well," he said.

Michelle Ostrander, a Westminster attorney representing Hampstead in all issues involving North Carroll Farms IV, said she did not know if the open space issue was reviewed by county planners who would have advised town officials before they approved building permits in 1994.

Ms. Ostrander said it is possible Mr. Hill may have information that could satisfy the apparent code violation, but the town cannot issue a permit it believes may be invalid.

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