Carroll rezoning clears way for housing

Owner of Sykesville site plans 150 houses there

May 12, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Sykesville Town Council's rezoning of Raincliffe Center has paved the way for a 150-house development on the unimproved 32-acre site, once the community's only industrial property.

Mayor Jonathan Herman's vote in favor of rezoning the site for residential use broke a 3-3 tie shortly after midnight Monday and followed a five-hour public hearing.

"Basically, I felt there had been a change in the neighborhood that warranted a rezoning," Herman said.

The most significant change was the town's recent annexation of the Warfield Complex, 15 aging buildings on 138 acres that Sykesville plans to turn into an employment campus, Herman said.

"Raincliffe was not going anywhere as far as industrial development," said Councilman Michael Burgoyne, who favored the rezoning. "With Warfield coming on line, it was never going to go anywhere. Warfield made a dramatic change in the neighborhood."

Raincliffe Center could become another subdivision in the town, the population of which has grown by more than 1,100, to 3,500, since 1990.

Owner David Moxley said Ryland Homes, a national builder, is interested in constructing 91 townhouses and 64 single-family homes on the property.

"If you don't focus residential growth around the towns, where else will you focus?" Herman asked. "This is consistent with the county's master plan and with the governor's Smart Growth."

Wetlands, rock deposits and the hilly terrain made it impossible to market the property to business or industry, Moxley said. If he builds houses, he said, he could work around those constraints.

The council had heard hours of testimony Monday, most of it from attorneys representing Moxley and Northrop Grumman, a manufacturer that is Raincliffe's nearest neighbor.

"Northrop Grumman is disappointed in the Sykesville Town Council's vote. By rezoning the property from industrial to residential, the company will be significantly restricted in the future use of its property," the company said in a statement yesterday.

The defense contractor, which has 350 employees at its Sykesville location, opposes homes so close to its plant, which sits on 35 acres. Homes would also have an impact on the company's expansion, reducing its buildable land by nearly 30 percent because of county limits on construction near residences.

Pub Date: 5/12/99

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