Rouse to seek mixed-use zoning for 526 acres About 1,420 housing units planned in North Laurel

August 27, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Rouse Co. officials plan to file a request by the end of next week to convert 526 acres in North Laurel to "mixed-use" zoning -- a new development category aimed at creating Columbia village-style neighborhoods in other areas of Howard County.

The Rouse project, on company-owned land off Gorman Road along both sides of Interstate 95, calls for about 1,420 housing units, or 2.7 per acre.

The project is less than half the size of a typical Columbia village in terms of the number of dwellings but would mean a big increase in housing for the North Laurel area.

About 37 percent of the land would be used for single-family houses that would cost about as much as those in Columbia's newest village, River Hill -- from about $200,000 to $400,000.

In addition, about 12 percent of the land would be developed for townhouses, apartments and condos.

As with all mixed-use communities, a large portion -- about 36 percent -- of the land would be used for open space with walking paths and tot lots. And about 15 percent would be for businesses, much like Columbia's village centers.

Construction of the North Laurel project would begin in 1999.

Because the mixed-use zoning is similar to Columbia's "new town" designation, Rouse officials -- who developed Columbia -- say they are the ones to pioneer the new zoning category in the county.

"It's not like we're asking people to experiment," said Alton Scavo, senior vice president for Rouse. "You have a developer who is tested and true in research and development of mixed-use type communities."

Howard zoning officials want to use mixed-use communities -- where residents could live, work and play in the same neighborhood -- to guide future development in the county.

But as Rouse officials proceed with their plans, residents in the North Laurel-Savage area want assurances that a mixed-use development will not disrupt the tranquil and historic character of their community, where many have chosen to live as an alternative to Columbia.

"It's quiet back in here," said Barbara Lovett, a resident of the Bowling Brook Farms community off Gorman Road. "It's not hustle-bustle. I think the important thing is to keep the flavor of this area, which is different from Columbia."

Before construction could begin on the Rouse project in North Laurel, the property must be rezoned to the mixed-use category, which requires the approval of the county Zoning Board. The property now is zoned for an employment center.

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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