Plans for Reisterstown duplex development delayed

July 01, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Plans for a 66-unit development of back-to-back duplexes just off Reisterstown's historic Main Street were delayed Friday when a county hearing officer withheld approval and instead sent them back to the planning office for further study.

Although plans for the Goldsborough Manor development meet zoning requirements, the project of "neo-traditional" housing is so unusual that county planners should determine whether it is compatible with nearby homes and businesses, hearing officer Lawrence E. Schmidt ruled.

In his 14-page opinion, Schmidt wrote that the developer "is proposing a residential community unlike anything heretofore constructed in Baltimore County." He ordered further review "to ensure that the project will fit nicely in this neighborhood."

Schmidt ordered the planning office to file its report within 45 days, and said he would reconvene a public hearing before making his decision.

The hearing officer's order comes two weeks after Northwest Reisterstown Community Association and a neighboring business owner argued that the development would violate zoning regulations.

Robert D. Sellers, a lawyer who represented critics of the proposal, said the county erred in allowing the development of back-to-back townhouses to be considered "alternate" and "neo-traditional" -- designations that carry less-stringent setback requirements.

Schmidt rejected those arguments.

Julius W. Lichter, lawyer for the developers, Howard S. Brown and Virginia Goldsborough Schuster, said, "I can't think of a more positive decision." The developers have described the project as an innovative throwback, with narrow streets and $170,000-and-up houses that feature traditional architecture.

Still, Lichter acknowledged that he was concerned about the delay in obtaining approval. The site of the proposed development, about 9 acres in the heart of Reisterstown, also is the subject of a community group's petition for rezoning.

Lichter has said his clients hope to get approval and begin construction before a ruling on the rezoning petition.

Pub Date: 7/01/96

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