As one project advances, another stalls Fulton development fares better than Rouse village plan

March 26, 1998|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Plans to build a large-scale development in Fulton are moving forward, while the Rouse Co.'s ambitious plan to build a Columbia-style village in North Laurel has stalled.

Last night, the Howard County Zoning Board was unable to decide on details of how the Rouse Co. should divide the land among residential, commercial and open space areas.

The public work session was supposed to be the culmination of 14 weeks of divisive hearings about the 522 acres straddling Interstate 95, south of Gorman Road and north of Route 216.

Instead, the five-member zoning board agreed to schedule yet another hearing at which the Rouse Co. will present a second preliminary development plan for the site.

Rouse planners will have to include these guidelines from the board: 120 acres of single-family detached housing, 60 acres of single-family attached housing, 250 apartment units, 155 acres of employment space and 180 acres of open space.

Last month, the board sided with Rouse and agreed that the parcel was incorrectly zoned in 1993. The Rouse Co., the builder of Columbia, sought a zoning change to allow it to build homes and some commercial buildings on the site.

That effectively gave the development giant approval for mixed-use development zoning, which Howard County planners have been touting as the best way to maximize the decreasing land available for development in the county.

While the Fulton project might not become as controversial as the Rouse Co.'s proposed project -- the land is zoned for such development -- it will have no less of an impact on the character of the small town.

Developers from Greenebaum & Rose Associates filed a preliminary development plan Monday with the Howard County Planning Board outlining the development details for Iager Farm and Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton.

Howard County has long expected the farm to be developed and has zoned the area for mixed use. The county school system has bought 100 acres in the area for elementary, middle and high schools.

According to the plan, 36 percent of the land would be used for single-family detached homes, almost 14 percent would be used for other residential units and a little more than 15 percent would be used for employment centers.

At least 35 percent of the land would be used as open space, maintaining some of the area's rural flavor.

The first 470 acres of the project -- and the largest piece of land -- is Maple Lawn Farms, which produces about 20,000 turkeys a year and is owned by the Iager family.

Monday's filing followed a series of public meetings between the developer and Fulton residents to answer questions about the huge project. Community activists have been concerned about its impact.

"This is an increasingly costly expense to both state and county taxpayer," said Peter J. Oswald, president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association in Fulton. "We're going to put in a $28 million interchange [at U.S. 29 and Route 216] to support this development and a $30 million high school. It makes no sense.

"I think they're using mixed use as a smoke screen to allow high-density development that the developer can profit from," Oswald said.

Speaking of the Fulton site and the Rouse project less than five miles apart on Route 216, Oswald said, "We're feeling squeezed in."

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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