Episcopal Housing Corp. proposes retirement village in Union Bridge Group would seek grant from state, then give land and the 16 units to town

October 28, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Union Bridge officials will visit a retirement village in Frederick County next month to decide whether to accept the gift of a similar project in their community.

Episcopal Housing Corp. of Baltimore has proposed building a 16-unit retirement village on 2.67 acres between Ladiesburg and Quaker Hill roads in Union Bridge.

If the mayor and Town Council agree, the group would seek a state grant for the $1 million project.

The land and buildings would be donated to the town, and the group would help officials find someone to manage the site.

The project would be the first Carroll County development built with the help of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Partnership Rental Program.

The program provides construction aid of up to $65,000 per unit in the form of a deferred loan, which would become due only if the property were used for something other than housing or the residents had incomes that exceed the state-set limit, $18,499 or less for individuals, and $21,199 or less for couples.

"This is tough, but the only drawback I see is that this is forever," said James L. Schumacher, chairman of Union Bridge Planning and Zoning Commission.

"If in time we ever ceased to operate it [as a home for low-income retirees], we'd owe money. I don't know what the future holds for 30 years."

Each 625-square-foot unit would contain a kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and bath.

The village would feature a small community building, where residents could meet, do laundry, and pick up mail.

The units would rent for $300 a month or less to people age 55 or older who have limited incomes. Utilities, management fees, and maintenance fees would be included in the rent.

Council President Bret D. Grossnickle wanted to know if water and sewer costs had been included.

"You'd have to figure water and sewer into the price," Grossnickle said. "We can't do it right now."

The town is committed to drilling a new well, reconditioning its old well, building a well house and replacing substandard pipes.

"We don't want to come into the community and do what you don't want," Ardath M. Cade, an Episcopal Housing Corp. representative, told the mayor and council.

"We're saying we would like to partner with you if you feel this would be good for your community. If you're willing to go the next step with us -- [applying for state aid] -- we would do most of the work."

A retirement village in Woodsboro resembles what a Union Bridge development would look like, Cade said.

"In Woodsboro, all the residents came from within a five- to 10-mile radius, and there is a full waiting list," Cade said.

The average age of residents is 72, and most of them are widows, she said.

Cade said she believes a similar situation would occur in Union Bridge if the project were built.

"We would be providing a home for people who want to live or already live in Union Bridge and its environs," she said.

Cade said the land for the project was given to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland by Thelma Shriner, a longtime Union Bridge resident.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. told the council he favors the project, or he "wouldn't have been talking to these people for the past two years."

It's a "very well-operated program to provide small efficiencies for elderly people," Jones said.

Councilman Donald D. Wilson said he wanted to visit the Woodsboro development before voting on the project.

The mayor and council agreed to tour the Woodsboro facility and meet with residents at 9 a.m. Nov. 7.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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