Ellicott City developer submits new plans for office complex

10 units are proposed in old-looking buildings in historic area off Fels Lane

May 02, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City developer has submitted new plans for an office complex off Fels Lane in Ellicott City's historic district.

The proposal calls for 10 office units within four historic-looking buildings. The county's Historic District Commission will hear the case at its meeting Thursday at 7: 30 p.m. in the George Howard Building. A vote that night is possible.

Developer Michael Pfau has tried to develop the 7-acre property twice and met with substantial opposition from neighbors.

Previous objections

At last month's Historic District Commission meeting, neighbors objected to an office complex designed to look like a farmstead. Pfau withdrew those plans.

About a year and a half ago, the panel rejected Pfau's plans to build 27 townhouses on the site.

After hearing complaints from neighbors last month, Pfau and his architects redesigned the plans to give them less of a farmstead look. They redesigned the biggest building, originally intended to look like a barn. Neighbors had objected to those plans because historically, Main Street did not have farms; farmers came there to shop.

Neighbors also complained that Pfau's plans would dwarf a 70-year-old stone house on the property, which has been converted into apartments. In response to those criticisms, Pfau moved one of the four office buildings so that it will not loom over the house.

Historic District Commission staff members have recommended approval of the project, calling it "very well designed."

Charles E. Fisher, an Ellicott City resident who works as a historic preservationist in Washington, disagrees.

"It's still having a serious impact on the historic character," he said. "They've kind of tinkered with it, but it's still going to have the same impact."

Response appreciated

Sally Bright, an Ellicott City activist who has objected to Pfau's plans in the past, said she hasn't seen the new proposal but appreciates Pfau's efforts to respond to the concerns of neighbors.

"He's trying," she said. "It's a learning process."

Pfau could not be reached to comment.

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