Compromise allows room for change in St. Timothy's housing development

July 14, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

It might not be the final plan.

A proposal to build 53 houses on 90 acres owned by St. Timothy's School in Stevenson -- which sparked one of Baltimore County's most bitter development battles in recent years -- could be changed, school and community leaders say.

But, as part of a recent agreement, any changes could only reduce the number of homes in the Bridle Ridge development.

"They can't add houses, they can't tear down the trees along Greenspring Avenue, they can't make any changes that would be detrimental," said Amy Kahn, a leader of the Coalition to Preserve the Valleys.

Deputy Zoning Commissioner Timothy Kotroco approved St. Timothy's plans June 7 after the school and its neighbors signed a settlement agreement to allow the development to proceed.

In 1996, the girls boarding and day school -- noting the need to increase its endowment and ensure its future -- sparked the controversy by proposing to sell part of its 230-acre campus for a 63-home development.

"What we have now far surpasses anything that was proposed three years ago," said Kahn.

The agreement -- with the plan approved by Kotroco -- occurred after more than a year of negotiations between St. Timothy's and the community, which includes some of the area's wealthiest families.

J. Carroll Holzer, a lawyer for the coalition, said the compromise plan ensures the remains of a half-dozen historic outbuildings would be preserved and that storm water drainage would be adequate without a retention pond.

He said the plan also reduces the number of homes to be built along the southern border of the property, near where opponents live, and ensures that the highly visible hills along the northern side of the tract would remain wooded.

Jack Dillon, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council, said the compromise helped the community achieve its major objective -- keeping homes off the highly visible hills near the north side of the parcel.

"In getting everyone to sit down at the table and talk about their concerns, I think everyone came out a winner," Dillon said.

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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