Two subdivision proposals to be unveiled today before county advisory committee Projects would be built in Taylorsville, Finksburg

June 25, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF

Two major subdivision proposals, the first for Carroll since passage of the county's growth-control law, will be heard today by county officials.

Joel C. Kaufman, a Westminster developer, seeks to build 41 more upscale houses on his Sun Valley Farms subdivision off Cherokee Drive near Routes 27 and 26 in Taylorsville. If approved, the custom-built houses would cost $300,000 or more each and sit on 1-acre parcels.

Walter D. and Sylvia B. Dell of Finksburg hope to turn 70 acres of farmland into a 47-lot subdivision near Deer Park Road and Gamber Road (Route 91) near Finksburg. The Dells would not discuss details of their plans.

The proposals end nearly two years during which no new large residential development was proposed in Carroll County.

During that time, residential development came almost to a halt as county officials debated a growth-control policy. Builders, developers and lenders complained that the county's residential-subdivision process was so unpredictable that it was difficult to know whether projects that had been started could be finished.

The Bureau of Development Review handled dozens of other residential-subdivision proposals for the incorporated towns and scores of residential projects that had been proposed. But no residential subdivision proposals existed -- until now.

"For close to two years, there's been close to nothing new," said Darrell Davidson, a project manager for the Bureau of Development Review.

The two projects to be presented today follow the passage in March of the county's growth-control law, which builders hope will make the subdivision process more predictable.

County officials, however, were reluctant to attribute the proposals to the new law. Davidson said they were more likely the result of market forces.

"If they feel like there's a market, they'll put a proposal in," he said.

The Sun Valley Farms and Dell proposals will be presented today during a 9 a.m. meeting of the Subdivision Advisory Committee in the auditorium at Bear Branch Nature Center, 300 John Owings Road, Westminster. The public is invited to comment.

Few details have been released on the 47-lot development on the 70 acres owned by the Dells.

The project developer, Gaines, Inc. of Baltimore County, did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Kaufman's proposal for 41 lots would be the first addition to Sun Valley Farms since the development was built in 1977.

Kaufman said the second phase would complete his long-term vision for a community of upscale houses. He expects they would sell slowly, about five to seven each year.

"We haven't been setting the world on fire. Once you get about $250,000 or $270,000, sales slow down considerably," he said.

It took more than 20 years to finish the first phase of his project. The first rancher sold for $62,500 in 1977. Six months ago, his last house sold for $320,000.

The new houses will also cost about $300,000, he said.

"It's an extension of what's there right now. They are custom homes, no two that look alike," Kaufman said. "The only concern is that the character [of the neighborhood] be maintained. I sit here and tell you it will."

County officials said they had received a number of calls from neighbors with questions about the developments. The panel will find out during the public comment period today whether opposition exists.

W. Allen Wolf, who lives at the end of Cherokee Drive, said he prefers that Sun Valley Farms not grow, but said there was little he could do about it.

"It's going to be a lot more traffic. But I don't know if there is anything to object to," he said, adding that he knew when he bought his ranch house five years ago that an expansion was planned for the subdivision.

If Kaufman builds upscale houses in the neighborhood, it could help his bottom line, he said.

"That would make my home more valuable," he said.

The county growth-control law enacted in March limits residential building to 6,000 lots in the next six years. The measure allows the commissioners to direct housing developments to areas where schools, roads and public services are adequate, and restrict them elsewhere.

The bill exempts 6,722 vacant lots that have been through the subdivision-review process.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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