Landowner seeks permission to build 31 homes on farmland Several neighbors object to development of area environmentally 'critical'

December 03, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A landowner is asking Anne Arundel County for permission to build 31 homes on farmland south of Annapolis designated as an environmentally "critical area" because it drains into the Chesapeake Bay.

Several neighbors oppose the project. But the administration of County Executive John G. Gary favors it because the family of Hunting Davis Sr. has promised to donate 25 acres for a public park and ball fields if it is approved.

The County Council will vote Dec. 15 on whether to give a green light to the Homeport Farm subdivision between Church Creek and Route 2. Council approval requires changing 66 acres from a "resource conservation area" to a "limited development area."

Altering the designation would allow the Davis family to double the number of homes allowed, which they have owned since the 1920s. The area has become increasingly impractical for farming as subdivisions have sprung up all around it, said David Plott, an attorney for the family.

Along with donating an $800,000 tract alongside the creek for a park, the family also will give the county $232,000 to build ball fields and preserve 17 acres in wooded conservation easements, Plott said. "There is clearly a public benefit to this project," said Plott. "The county is getting a waterfront park for free."

Some neighbors, however, fear the traffic and noise that a public park might attract. And they worry that building more houses along the creek south of Wilelinor Road would destroy the area's charm.

"We in the community feel that we have a special piece of property here that we need to protect," said Nendy Lawson, an artist who has lived in the nearby Wilelinor subdivision for 23 years.

"And we are totally opposed to an active-use park because we feel that our creek will be endangered and that we will lose our wildlife, fish and fauna," said Lawson.

Barbara McGarry, a 50-year-old homemaker who lives nearby, asked: "Why put this in such an environmentally sensitive area? Why not put this in an area that will not harm a beautiful waterway?"

If the County Council votes in favor of the proposal, the landowner still must appear before the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission, which could refuse to allow the zoning change doubling the number of homes.

County Councilman William C. Mulford II, a Republican who represents the Annapolis area, said he supports the proposal not only because the county could gain two or three much-needed baseball fields and a soccer field.

As important, Mulford said, is the landowner's plans to provide land where the county will plant trees and install collection systems to prevent storm water from polluting the stream.

"This is a smart way to handle development," said Mulford.

The farm has no drainage system to prevent rain from washing fertilizer into the creek, Plott said.

With a subdivision of homes worth roughly $250,000 each, the owners also plan to build a storm-water pond to catch runoff before it pollutes Church Creek, which runs into the South River.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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