Board OKs Rouse Co. village plan in Laurel Planning panel also approves proposal for Cherrytree Park

May 08, 1998|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Planning Board reluctantly approved yesterday a revised plan by the Rouse Co. to build a 516-acre Columbia-style village in North Laurel.

The board also approved a revised preliminary proposal for Cherrytree Park, a 42-acre residential and commercial development in nearby Scaggsville.

Rouse Co. officials retooled their project according to specifications set two months ago by the Zoning Board, which raised objections about the density of residential development after contentious hearings and complaints from nearby residents.

The new versions of the Cherrytree Park and Rouse Co. preliminary development plans call for fewer homes and more commercial square footage.

Though the plans were approved, some Planning Board members worried that Rouse's revised proposal strayed from the original plan.

Board member Theodore F. Mariani was the lone dissenter in the board's 4-1 vote on Rouse's new proposal.

"Looking at these maps, I don't think it's going to be as nice a place to live," Mariani said. "This plan is a hell of a lot worse than the original. There hasn't been a net benefit to revising this."

Two months ago, the Zoning Board approved the Rouse Co.'s request to rezone the site from employment to mixed use.

The board -- composed of the five members of the County Council -- then rejected Rouse's preliminary development plan and requested that adjustments be made after some members expressed reservations over the number of residential units in the mixed-use proposal.

Alton J. Scavo, senior vice president of Rouse, said the new plan meets the Zoning Board's requirements.

Fewer units planned

"The board has spoken, and we need to go forward with this plan," Scavo said yesterday. "We've done what we were supposed to do."

The plan would reduce the number of residential units from 1,395 to 1,201, eliminating 245 single-family homes but increasing the number of townhouses by 51.

The new blueprint almost doubles the employment space from 88.8 acres to 154.9 and positions those areas along Interstate 95 and adjacent to the Maryland-Virginia Milk Producers Co-op on the western edge of the property.

The revised plans for the Cherrytree Park and Rouse were returned to the Planning Board to allow the public to comment on the changes.

Previous critics of the Rouse proposal said they wanted more time to review the changes.

North Laurel resident Grant Myers said the impact of Cherrytree Park would be felt by those who live closest to the U.S. 29-Route 216 interchange.

"There is a lot of traffic going in and out of there already," he said. "When we moved into this community, we thought the growth was going to be in single-family homes. Now, we learn that there will be commercial properties there, too."

Greg Brown, president of the Cherrytree Farm Neighborhood Association, said the revised proposal is as good a compromise as North Laurel residents are likely to get.

"The planning of this new proposal is wonderful compared to the last one," Brown said. "My hope is that people will choose to live and work in the same place so that there's less damage to the infrastructure."

Planning Board member Joan Lancos said yesterday that careful study of the Cherrytree Park and Rouse proposals was necessary in light of the latest revisions.

'Balanced' plans sought

"All these MXD [mixed-use development] cases are really important, and I want to be sure that we're doing the right thing," she said before the board unanimously approved Cherrytree Park. "These plans have to be balanced in terms of residential and commercial use. Ten or 15 years from now, this area could look very different."

Cherrytree Park, a mixed-use proposal, would be smaller than Rouse's project and another mixed-use development planned for the 800-acre Iager farm in nearby Fulton.

Cherrytree Park had been on hold since October 1996, when the Zoning Board forced the developer to change the proposal. The property was then sold to Canton Builders and Winchester Homes.

The second draft calls for reducing the number of homes from 252 to 171 and increasing the employment area to 212,102 square feet from 14,400, with most of the office buildings along U.S. 29.

The preliminary plans for the Rouse and Cherrytree Park projects move to the Zoning Board, where a hearing on the Rouse proposal will be held at 1 p.m. May 27. A hearing on the Cherrytree Park proposal in Scaggsville will be held at 8 p.m. June 24.

Pub Date: 5/08/98

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