Developing the Taylor property Howard County: Construction on long-held land in Ellicott City was inevitable.

March 27, 1997

THE WEALTHY FAMILY that owns the Taylor Manor psychiatric hospital has had permission to build homes on land near the hospital since it bought the property. The only question was when homes would start to rise in the quiet neighborhood.

Land that the Taylor family wants to develop has been zoned for housing since 1948. Howard County's comprehensive rezoning four years ago stiffened environmental requirements but maintained the area's residential designation.

It was only a matter of time before a corporation owned by the family would take steps to build 135 homes on 85 acres in Autumn View, near Bonnie Branch Road, in addition to 70 new homes already there. Neighbors are waging a futile battle to deprive the owners of their property rights.

Residents have grown accustomed to the topography and rural character they hoped would always remain. It is a place where passers-by can see chickens and horses while driving along serpentine and hilly College Avenue. The network of narrow roads in the area is among Howard's most scenic.

But the family has the right, and the zoning, to proceed with its plans. The Taylors have owned property in Ellicott City's historic district for 85 years, since patriarch Isaac H. Taylor moved from Baltimore.

Mr. Taylor, who owned a Main Street furniture store, bought the struggling hospital in 1939 when his son Irving was in medical school and turned it into a renowned facility. The family began acquiring property in the 1960s, and now owns 450 acres in the area and about a dozen buildings on Main Street.

Neighbors knew, or could have learned by checking county planning maps, that the family always had the zoning it needed to build houses when it bought the land. Planners have long viewed the area as ideal for residential growth.

It is hard to dispute the family's contention that it cares about the area as much as anyone. It has built a good name with its history of living and doing business in Ellicott City. Yes, the family must ensure that its development adheres to environmental guidelines and it must answer traffic concerns. Once these issues are addressed, there is no legal reason to stop the family from developing its land.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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