No fast track for Iager Farm Delaying a decision on 1,168-home project near Fulton may be for the best.

July 23, 1998

IT WAS doubtful that the Howard County Zoning Board could make a quick decision on a controversial mixed-use development plan to build scores of houses, townhouses, condominiums and businesses near Fulton.

The developers' optimistic prediction that residents' fears of the construction would soon evaporate proved wrong. While most people consider the project inevitable, they still want some control over its pace.

Having gained approval from the planning board last month for their Iager Farm project, the developers sought a hasty rubber stamp by the zoning board of the proposed mixed-use development. But that could only come if there was no public dissent to consider.

The developer, G&R Maple Lawn Inc., now concedes it has been unable to satisfy opponents. Consequently, it has asked that a public hearing scheduled for Monday be postponed. A hearing won't be rescheduled until the zoning board returns from its August-to-November election recess.

The delay means the new County Council, in its dual capacity as the zoning board, will determine the fate of the Iager Farms project. It's doubtful that new council members will stray from the planning board's approval, but some aspects of the project may change.

Opponents want the construction phased in so that most of the homes aren't built until 2004, when improvements to U.S. 29, Johns Hopkins Road and Route 216 have been completed. The new council might agree with them.

A delay, even of the inevitable, can be a good thing. The discussion that occurs on the way to a final decision could make the difference in whether Howard countians later have regrets about the development.

The Iager Farm project and a Rouse Co. mixed-use development that includes 1,200 homes will dramatically change what used to be farmland. Schools will be built. Traffic will increase. The quality of life will change. The people making the decisions should take all the time they need to get it right.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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