Residents to challenge plan to build housing for elderly in Hickory Ridge County appeals board grants unanimous OK to Armiger project

June 06, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Residents opposed to a planned housing project for the elderly in Columbia's Hickory Ridge village say they will challenge the plan in Howard County Circuit Court now that the county Board of Appeals has given it a green light.

The board voted 3-0 Tuesday, with one abstention, to grant an exception to L. Earl Armiger, president of the Orchard Development Corp., for a three-story, 89-apartment project on 18 acres between Owen Brown and Freetown Roads in Hickory Ridge.

"This project will affect our property values and the future of our neighborhood," said Suzanne Ricklin, who has lived in the area with her husband, Larry, for nine years. "There's a lot of incentive to stay involved."

Armiger said yesterday that a court battle would not necessarily delay his project, because construction is not scheduled to start until next spring.

"It might be more fruitful if they and I start talking and get to know each other instead of continuing to fight," Armiger said, adding that neighbors have a standing offer from him to discuss his architectural, landscaping and management plans for the project.

About 60 families have fought the project since it first came before the Board of Appeals in January, saying it would increase traffic in their neighborhood and hurt property values.

The Board of Appeals approved the project with 11 conditions, including a limit of 89 units and requirements that cooking odors be controlled and that outside lights face toward the building and away from the surrounding neighborhood.

The dispute comes at a time when the county's elderly population is projected to increase by more than 250 percent in the next 24 years.

According to the state Office of Planning, the county has about 20,500 residents 60 and older, about 10 percent of the county's population.

Projections are for a 25 percent increase in the county's total population in the next decade and a 70 percent increase in the elderly population.

"We don't have a problem with elderly housing. It's just the size of the project," Larry Ricklin said. "That's why the neighborhood fought so strongly. And we're not going to stop."

Pub Date: 6/06/96

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