Army seeks land-for-housing exchange Developer would build homes at Fort Meade

November 07, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

The Army is ready to exchange land at Fort Meade for new military housing.

Officials from the post and Anne Arundel County soon will begin looking for developers willing to build military housing at Fort Meade in exchange for 200 acres of property around the intersection of Route 175 and Reece Road that would be turned into a senior housing community.

The land-for-housing swap marks a new direction for the Army as it tries to fill the need for housing for its personnel and their families, said George Barbee, Fort Meade's project officer for the initiative. If the exchange works here, it could be used at military installations around the country, he said.

Under the plan, the builders would get the land, including 250 aging brick townhouse and apartment units in Meade Heights, free in exchange for building homes on base that are worth the appraised value of the parcel, according to Army and county officials. The appraisal of the land will be completed by the end of the year.

Last month, families moved into the last of 262 townhouses built on base under a $26 million construction program, according to Fort Meade spokesman Don McClow. But federal funds for such projects have dried up. "The reality of the matter is that there is no funding for new construction," McClow said. "Sell land; buy houses. That's really the bottom line."

The base may get 100 to 150 units of housing in the deal, Barbee said.

The old section of Meade Heights south of Reece Road likely would be demolished by the developer, according to county Human Services Officer Ardath Cade, whose office has been working with the Army to plan how the land will be used.

Families living there will be given high priority for other housing on base but some will have to live off base, Barbee said.

The county sees the proposal as a way to bolster the availability of homes for its aging population, Cade said.

Many military retirees live around Fort Meade, but the community would not be targeted exclusively toward them, Cade said. The homes would be for residents over age 55, but without income restrictions, she said. At least 25 of the units would have to include services such as meals or a staff assistant for residents, she said. The community also could have small shops and doctors' offices.

A request to have the parcel's zoning changed to allow more dense development and require less land to be set aside as open space will go before a hearing administrator next month. An "adult service community" is allowed as a special exception under residential zoning.

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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