Hearing near on plan for Town Center Shopping center was first envisioned 28 years ago

Wetlands impact at issue

Corps of Engineers rejected proposal six years ago

June 04, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Twenty-eight years after county planners first envisioned it, development of the Odenton Town Center could be one step closer to reality.

County planners and owners of a 30-acre parcel at the 220-acre site will get a hearing this week before the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment on the impact the proposed development would have on protected wetlands.

The hearing comes six years after the corps, without a hearing, rejected an initial plan as too harmful to wetlands in the Severn and Patuxent river systems.

"We're happy to see the corps finally having this hearing," said Jay Winer, a local developer who helped draft the plan and now heads the committee overseeing its implementation. "For those of us that have worked on the plan for a number of years, it can't happen soon enough."

The 220-acre triangle bounded by Routes 32 and 175 and the Amtrak railroad tracks was designated a town center, which allows concentrated office, retail and commercial development, in 1968. But changes in federal wetlands regulations over the years have marked more and more of the site as sensitive or protected land, slowing plans for development.

After working together for more than two years, developers and county planners say they may have a plan the corps and Department of the Environment can live with.

"I'm hoping that we get approval," Rich Josephson, chief of long-range planning in the county, said last week. "This has been in the making for some time."

Reliable Contracting Co. Profit Sharing Trust, the retirement account for the 300 employees at Reliable Contracting, bought the 30 acres in the southwest corner of the triangle over five years, beginning in 1985.

Its plans call for a 215,000-square-foot shopping center with a grocery store, another large retail anchor and small shops and offices. The proposal calls for filling nearly 7 acres of forested wetlands and about 3 acres of wetland buffers.

In conjunction with that project, the county would build access roads and water lines for the shopping center, filling about 4acres of wetlands and about 2acres of wetland buffers.

Reliable and the county would create 16 acres of forested wetlands elsewhere to make up for the areas filled by the development.

If state and federal officials approve the plan, construction could start next spring, Jason Jacobson, a vice president with Osprey Investment Co. , said at last month's meeting of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association. Osprey is managing development of the property for Reliable.

Building the shopping center and the access roads would help set the course for further development at the town center, officials working on the proposals say.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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