Rule wider than measure or at top of take Developers must be flexible Three major development projects will proceed despite public concern.

June 22, 1998

THERE WILL be no stopping three major development projects in southern Howard County. But as phased construction proceeds toward completion over the next 10 years, neither builders nor the county officials who gave them the green light should forget public reservations about these projects.

They must remain vigilant against actions that would overwhelm roads and schools. Timetables must be honored so that residential construction does not outpace the commercial development. It's going to take more business tax dollars to pay for the schools and roads needed to serve so many new residents.

The Howard County Zoning Board has approved the Rouse Co. plan for 1,201 residential units in North Laurel near Gorman Road and Route 216. Rouse has agreed to increase commercial space in the mixed-use development to 1.5 million square feet.

The zoning board is expected Wednesday to approve the plans of Canton Builders and Winchester Homes for its Cherrytree Park development in Scaggsville -- 171 homes and 212,102 square feet of commercial space.

Next month, the board may also approve the plans of G&R Maple Lawn Inc. for 1,168 residential units and 1.1 million square feet of commercial space near Fulton.

None of these projects is occurring without strong protest. Once all the building is complete, there will be no turning back the

clock. The south end of the county will be forever changed. But it will be the continuation of a process that years ago began to strip the area of much of its rural ambience.

Ten years from now it will be clearer whether the new development is worth the increased traffic and other changes in lifestyles.

The answer may depend on whether developers continue to listen to the public after all their plans have been approved by county officials.

Criticism about population and commercial density led to alterations in the development plans. Flexibility will be crucial as new concerns crop up.

Pub Date: 6/22/98

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