Planning Board approves condo complex for seniors

Glenwood project of 116 units approved, 4-0, despite protests

May 18, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

The dispute over the Villas of Cattail Creek has resumed.

Last night, a handful of residents went before the Howard County Planning Board to protest a proposed 116-unit condominium complex for senior citizens in Glenwood, which the board approved by a 4-0 vote.

Board member Joan Lancos said she would rather not see attached housing units in western Howard County but voted for the project because she said it meets county regulations."As much as I don't like it, it is an allowable use on the site," she said.

Residents had concerns that the project's septic system could contaminate Triadelphia Reservoir."I'm very discouraged with Howard County for even thinking about letting this thing go through," said Joe Carta, a resident of Route 97."It's an environmental nightmare," said Richard Brown, also of Route 97.

It is not the first time the Planning Board has heard developer Donald L. Reuwer's plans for the 58-acre site off Route 97 adjacent to Cattail Creek Country Club.

Reuwer first presented his plans for a senior citizens complex in 1997. The Howard County Board of Appeals held 12 hearings on the topic in 1997 and 1998 before granting Reuwer a special exception for the complex in September 1998.

Opponents appealed the decision to Howard County Circuit Court. Judge Lenore R. Gelfman ruled in January that the Board of Appeals erred when it granted the special exception because a planned common dining area did not meet county zoning regulations.

The original plans said that villa residents would use a dining facility at nearby Cattail Creek Country Club, but critics said the facility was too far from the condominiums and residents would have to walk along a cart path or drive golf carts.

Stephen R. Bockmiller, the planner working on the case, said there is some question over what the judge's decision means and what it will mean for the future of the project. He said the case is still in court; Gelfman could not be reached for comment to clarify her decision.

Meanwhile, the petitioner submitted new plans. So while one case is moving through the court system, the other is starting at the Howard County Planning Board.

The new plans are substantially the same as the old ones, the board decided, except now there is a proposed community building with a common dining area for private use by residents. Although the community building would not serve food, board members said, it would meet county regulations.

That outraged Brown."It's nothing more than a shell of a building where you can bring a bag lunch," he said."The court assumed that food was going to be provided and that it was going to be provided by the Villas," said Susan Gray, an attorney and slow-growth activist representing the opposition.

Gray argued that the board should hear the entire case again, but the board decided that was not necessary.

Board member Haskell Arnold defended the community dining facility, though people who use it will have to bring their own food."It's a place where people can gather, so it's not as ridiculous as it may seem," he said.

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