Developer wants Sykesville to rezone parcel near Route 32 Owner says property can't attract businesses

wants to build houses

October 05, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City developer has asked the town of Sykesville to rezone industrial property along Route 32 and allow him to build 155 homes.

The Town Council made no comment on the petition at a recent meeting, but several members have said they are willing to hear more.

With the recent annexation of the Warfield Complex and plans to renovate those 139 acres into an employment campus, Raincliffe Center, the proposed building site, is no longer the town's only industrial property.

"I don't know if the Town Council is opposed to residential use at Raincliffe, because things have changed," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager. "But I do know they want a development that is well-designed."

This will be the second attempt at rezoning for David Moxley, owner and developer of the 32-acre parcel at Raincliffe Road and the highway. Four years ago, he proposed a 192-townhouse lTC development. The Town Council refused his petition.

"This whole concept has been before the council before," said Councilman Michael Burgoyne, who opposed the 1994 petition. "The tenacity to hold onto industrial land just isn't there any longer. If Moxley comes up with a good plan, he will get some support on the council."

Moxley has said repeatedly the parcel is difficult, if not impossible, to market to business, although it is surrounded on three sides by industry, including Northrop Grumman, one of the county's leading employers.

"Northrop Grumman has let us know it would rather not have houses as neighbors," said Councilman Michael Kasnia.

To the east of Raincliffe is the Central Laundry Facility, a state prison for inmates nearing release. The Raincliffe property has been zoned for industry since 1977 and was annexed into the town soon after.

Even a $1.5 million public financing package that would pay for infrastructure and help Moxley market Raincliffe failed to attract tenants. That agreement expired in 1994.

"Moxley will have to prove it is undevelopable," said Burgoyne. "Legally, we are constrained to change the zoning, but the annexation of Warfield could make a difference."

Rezoning approval could be based on a mistake in the original zoning or a substantial change in the neighborhood.

"If we don't change, we are saying the property must stay barren," Burgoyne said.

As the county revises its master plan, Moxley is again seeking to build houses at Raincliffe. This time the plan calls for 64 single-family homes and 91 townhouses.

Sean Davis, an architectural consultant, made the initial presentation to the council Sept. 28. He had made a similar plea to the town Planning Commission.

The commission expressed concerns with traffic on already congested Route 32 and at an intersection that is rated as a failure during peak commuter hours. Moxley said he would prepare a new traffic study and make necessary road improvements. Access to the development would be from two entry points along Raincliffe Road.

Schools in South Carroll are nearly all crowded and could be another stumbling block for a large housing development. Moxley estimates about 76 students would live in the development, an estimate Burgoyne calls too low.

"Demographics say that development would mean about 300 children," Burgoyne said. "Maybe he should consider condos. There's less impact on the schools."

Sykesville strictly adheres to its Small Town Planning Guidelines, established nearly six years ago. Moxley said those regulations would assure a quality development.

"We are looking for a unique design, not a cookie-cutter approach," Burgoyne said.

Mayor Jonathan S. Herman, who was chairman of the town Planning Commission when it turned down Moxley's first rezoning petition, has said the site's proximity to Interstate 70 and Route 26 make it ideal for business.

Herman has made no comment on the latest petition.

Pub Date: 10/05/98

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