Councilman seeks to limit Honeygo townhouses Gardina thinks proposal, not backed by county planners, will win

March 07, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Although Baltimore County planners have not embraced the idea, a county councilman yesterday said he is confident that he will prevail in his bid to limit the number of townhouses in the planned community of Honeygo.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina said he isn't concerned that the county planning office is not backing his effort to eliminate 300 townhouses from the large development near White Marsh. Mr. Gardina, a Democrat who represents most of the Honeygo area, said he expects his colleagues on the County Council to support his request.

"I think they would defer to my opinion," he said.

The 5,600-unit Honeygo project was approved in 1994 -- with half the units that originally were proposed -- as an affordable, high-quality development to keep young families from moving to Harford and Carroll counties and southern Pennsylvania. Ground to be broken this spring on the first buildings.

The debate centers on the number of townhouses in Honeygo. Proponents say they provide more options for affordable housing; Mr. Gardina wants to restrict their numbers to minimize the potential for future blight.

Mr. Gardina said reducing the number of townhouses at Honeygo, one of the county's largest planned communities, would ensure the area's long-term stability.

"I think they tend to be starter homes and they have quicker turnover rates," he said. "After seeing some of the impact in Essex and Middle River, if it's not done properly it can lead to deterioration in these communities.

"In order to make sure this community is stable and secure -- and I'm not talking five years, I'm talking 15 or 20 -- this is what I want to see."

But county planners, who reviewed Mr. Gardina's requests, won't go as far in recommendations that are to be forwarded to the planning board today. They agreed to more restrictive zoning on 170 acres at Honeygo, but did not go along with Mr. Gardina's requests on about 117 more acres.

Baltimore County Planning Director Arnold F. "Pat" Keller III said planners considered Mr. Gardina's ideas, but decided that in some cases neighborhoods with mixes of single-family houses and townhouses were preferable.

"This gets to the fundamental issue that a mix of housing units, in itself, is not necessarily bad," he said, adding that the zoning will preclude concentrations of townhouses. He said townhouses instead will be built near single-family homes to help protect the value of the townhouses and to provide a range of housing. The planning board will conduct public hearings on the comprehensive rezoning program next month. The County Council will make the final decision on the rezoning in October.

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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