Housing proposal faces opposition

Building may affect well water, critics say

July 07, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Longtime opponents of a planned Glenwood senior citizen complex will kick off another fight tomorrow at a Board of Appeals hearing, targeting a proposed 32-home neighborhood next to the complex site off Route 97.

Critics say the latest proposed project would bring too much suburban sprawl into a rural part of the county and possibly threaten residents' well water.

"This is something that should be built in Columbia. All [the developers] are concerned about is how much money they are going to make," said 32-year Glenwood resident Joe Carta, who is leading a group of 16 opponents. "I like to see things left in their natural habitat."

Developer Donald Reuwer has heard all this before -- he's also the developer of the proposed senior citizen complex.

Reuwer said he does not believe his proposed 32-unit development, Cattail Ridge, threatens the community's character. Instead, he said, he thinks opponents are trying to delay his project.

"This doesn't have anything to do with what western Howard looks like because you can't see it from" Route 97, Reuwer said. "It's personal."

The development would sit on an 84-acre lot at Route 97 and Countryside Drive in Glenwood. Reuwer said he expects the homes to sell for $220,000 to $300,000.

The project was approved by Joseph W. Rutter, Department of Planning and Zoning director, Feb. 8. Opponents filed an appeal March 9.

Carta and other opponents of Cattail Ridge recently attended a status conference at Howard County's Circuit Courthouse on their court appeal of the county's approval of Cattail Creek, a 116-unit condominium complex for senior citizens. The group has been opposing the project since December 1997, when it first went before the Board of Appeals. The board approved Cattail Creek on a 3-to-1 vote in May 1998.

The senior complex site sits just north of Cattail Ridge. Opponents in both cases are represented by attorney Susan Gray, a slow-growth activist from Highland. Judge Lenore R. Gelfman set a tentative appeal hearing date of Nov. 4 for Cattail Creek.

Conforms to Smart Growth

Reuwer insisted that Cattail Ridge, like the senior housing complex, complies with the law and growth policies.

"There is no reason to oppose either. It is all done within regulations," Reuwer said. "It's really in harmony with Smart Growth," Gov. Parris N. Glendening's anti-sprawl program, he said.

But Carta said he doesn't think anyone is looking out for residents' interests, and said two large new developments could threaten their well water.

"This whole area is not adapted for that," he said of the developments. "This could affect people 50 miles away if they are on [well] water."

Debating the law

Rutter said he anticipates the board hearing will last about four nights, and that he hopes the discussion centers on the proposal.

"What is frustrating is that I get appealed for following the law and then we debate the law," Rutter said. "If it is a policy decision that you don't want, the County Council has an opportunity to change the law."

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