Impact Proposal Unanimously Rejected

Planning Board Oks Mall Expansion, Silver Diner Site

April 24, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Planning Board last night unanimously rejected a proposal that would have required developers to show how mixed-use projects would fiscally affect the county.

The board also unanimously approved expansion of The Mall in Columbia, extension of Broken Land Parkway onto mall property and a site plan for a Silver Diner in Town Center.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, an East Columbia Democrat, said his fiscal-impact proposal would have helped county officials to know if proposed mixed-use projects would generate enough tax revenue to pay for the services they use.

Mixed-use districts require a minimum of 15 percent business property and a minimum of 25 percent open space. County planners have said residences generally cost the county more in services -- schools, parks and police -- than they generate in tax revenue; the opposite is true for businesses.

Without such fiscal-impact analyses, Gray said, "It is extremely difficult to support mixed-use projects. It is important that we have this."

But board members questioned the importance of the studies since they cannot be considered as part of a set of criteria -- such as adequate schools and roads -- needed to approve such projects.

The board unanimously rejected Gray's proposal.

In other action, the board unanimously approved the Rouse Co.'s plan to extend a ring road around The Mall in Columbia and begin grading for future department stores.

Joseph H. Necker Jr., a Rouse vice president, said construction of the loop road on the northwest edge of the 19.8-acre site could begin in June.

He said approval was necessary to prepare land for the arrival of a Nordstrom's department store and another anchor store that he declined to name.

"We can now get started with our grading improvements and construction, which are key to getting the infrastructure available for the new buildings," Necker said.

The board also approved extending Broken Land Parkway to connect with the mall.

Last, the panel approved a site plan for a proposed 5,814-square-foot Silver Diner along Little Patuxent Parkway in Town Center near the Columbia City III theaters and across from the mall.

The diner would feature art deco design, ruby-red neon lighting and stainless steel accents, and could stay open until 3 a.m.

Necker said he hopes the diner, which could be operating by Thanksgiving, will enliven night life in Town Center.

"We've heard people say that downtown doesn't have enough activity," he said. "We think this adds an available amenity downtown and adds some night activity."

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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