Zoning process to build housing for the elderly could be eased But some residents fear congestion, blight

April 04, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Planning Board wants to make it easier to build apartments for the elderly, although some neighborhood leaders have warned that such moves will lead to congestion and blight.

The board endorsed a special zoning process yesterday to build apartments and assisted living facilities for the elderly.

Developers no longer would have to seek zoning changes to build the apartments in residential neighborhoods, according to zoning law revisions unanimously recommended by the board. But developers would need the board's approval for each project, called a planned unit development.

County planners and advocates for the elderly say more housing is needed for seniors, whose ranks are expected to top 200,000 in the county in 20 years.

The new zoning process would encourage the construction of housing for the elderly by:

L Allowing apartments to be built on lots as small as 2 acres.

Streamlining the review process.

Allowing more units on the property than the zoning otherwise would permit. For example, property zoned for 3.5 houses per acre would be allowed 16 apartment units per acre.

The recommendations will go to the County Council, which must approve the changes before they become law.

"It's a sensible thing to do," said Planning Board Chairman Phillip W. Worrall. "The key to remember it's a PUD and that means it's an opportunity and not a right."

Planning Director Arnold F. Pat Keller said the process for winning approval for the apartments will still be "rigorous."

Several county council members have said they oppose allowing higher density development in neighborhoods unless the council gives explicit approval by changing the zoning to allow the apartments. At a public hearing in February, several community leaders opposed the zoning changes, saying they feared the construction of apartment buildings would harm their neighborhoods.

But no community leaders came to yesterday's hearing to oppose the changes.

Pub Date: 4/04/97

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