Apartments limited at Honeygo Developer agrees to drop rental housing to ensure 'quality'

March 06, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Seeking to spur upscale development in the Honeygo area of White Marsh, Baltimore County officials have secured promises from a developer that could significantly change the face of housing in the planned community.

County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina said the financial backers of Perry Hall Farms, Honeygo's largest project, have agreed to major concessions that could help Honeygo become a "quality" community by limiting the number of apartments.

The Lupton Co., the Tennessee-based firm behind the Perry Hall Farms project, will eliminate rental housing and back-to-back "coach" townhouses from its plans. Also, the company will reduce the total number of townhouses and build some brick condominiums to be marketed to the elderly.

Robert A. Hoffman, a lawyer representing Lupton, said the company had remained open to design recommendations. But he said the discussions were hastened by legislation introduced by Gardina in January.

Gardina's proposal would have required Perry Hall Farms to comply with stringent design guidelines proposed for the rest of Honeygo, a "neo-traditional" community with a small-town feel. About 4,800 homes are planned for the area.

Gardina withdrew the bill after receiving three legal opinions suggesting that the measure would be unenforceable because Perry Hall Farms had already been approved as a development.

But the prospect of a legal fight apparently was enough to bring the Perry Hall Farms backers to the negotiating table. "Vince said that he put that bill in to keep us talking. It had that effect," Hoffman said yesterday.

The developers of Perry Hall Farms agreed to drop plans for about 350 apartments, and instead sell those units as condominiums, said Gardina, a Democrat. Only one other development in Honeygo will include an apartment building, he added.

Hoffman said that the company plans to market some of the 696 condominiums to seniors. Also, the developer agreed to "quality standards" for its 200 townhouses, such as staggered fronts, and shutters or chimneys on the sides, he said.

Perry Hall Farms is also to include about 170 single-family homes, which are expected to sell for up to $300,000.

The County Council is to vote this month on a resolution that would apply the most stringent design guidelines in the county to Honeygo. Guidelines would require townhouses to be built of brick, would regulate the appearance of the rear of houses and stores, and would require apartments and commercial buildings to be built of brick and masonry.

At one point, 11,000 residential units had been proposed for the 3,000-acre Honeygo area. But residents' objections to the Perry Hall Farms project -- approved before Honeygo became a distinct planning district -- prompted a series of planning and zoning changes that have reduced the number to about 4,800.

Still, a tour of the area provides few clues that it is to become the county's next major development zone. And the start of construction has been threatened by a rivalry between the developers of neighboring projects, Perry Hall Farms and Glenside Farms.

The stalemate was prompted by Perry Hall Farms' need for a sewer connection, and by concerns tied to adequate public facilities laws that apply to Honeygo.

One option for the sewer connection involves building a pumping station.

The other option involves a sewer line that would require an easement from the owner of property where Glenside Farms is to be built. But the property owner, Dorothy Schwartz, demanded $1 million in compensation.

Schwartz acknowledged that she is concerned that Perry Hall Farms, if allowed to move ahead, could develop to the point that the adequate facilities law would prevent Glenside Farms from being built for as much as a decade.

"It was almost a race to the courthouse to get units," said Michael H. Davis, an assistant to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Now, though, county officials are close to breaking the stalemate. Davis said a tentative agreement has been reached to ensure that Glenside Farms, a development of nearly 200 detached homes, will not be shut out by the facilities law. Also, Glenside Farms will gain road access through Perry Hall Farms.

In return, Perry Hall Farms is to gain access for its sewer line and pay an additional $300,000 to the county for infrastructure, Davis said.

Al Thompson, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, said: "I would love to see the final details before I make a definitive statement, but it sounds positive -- especially that there would be more than one builder building for the next five to 10 years."

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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