Panel offers changes to development

Route 216 to relocate before construction in Fulton begins

`Real change in philosophy'

Residential density also modified for Maple Lawn Farms

June 20, 2000|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Zoning Board took a step yesterday toward quelling residents' fears about the Maple Lawn Farms development in the southern part of the county, releasing a modified plan for the proposed residential and commercial space on a 507-acre former turkey farm.

At the work session, board members Christopher J. Merdon and Allan H. Kittleman discussed changes that mainly addressed residential density and road improvements - two topics hotly debated in the 30 hearings held about the property.

The Kittleman-Merdon modification would require that the relocation of Route 216 from U.S. 29 to Interstate 95 be completed before construction begins.

Praised as a Smart Growth community and a neotraditional development, Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton drew criticism for using compact yards and close-together housing.

In Howard County, which has had regulations encouraging neotraditional designs for nearly a decade, developer Stewart Greenebaum has spent more than two years trying to move his Maple Lawn Farms project from blueprint to construction.

Neither Greenebaum nor his attorney, Richard B. Talkin, had any comment on the Kittleman-Merdon modified proposal.

Residents testified at the hearings, which started in September, that Scaggsville Road, a one-lane road near the proposed development, would not be enough to handle traffic generated by a 1,168-dwelling community,

Kittleman said it is "wrong to allow the development to proceed until the roads are set."

The developer's original plan would allow construction to begin before completion of road improvements, a practice that board member C. Vernon Gray said is "the way it usually works."

Another modification to the developer's proposal addresses the number of residential units. The Kittleman-Merdon plan calls for a reduction in residential density from 2.3 dwelling units per acre to two dwelling units per acre.

The density reduction results in 152 fewer units: 451 instead of 495 single-family detached units; 413 instead of 437 townhouses; and 152 instead of 236 apartments or condominiums. The modified proposal also asks that some of those apartments and condos to be set aside for active senior housing.

Many of the residents who attended yesterday's work session said they felt encouraged after seeing the modified proposal.

"This is a real change in philosophy - putting the roads in place first," said Harry Brodie, president of Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association.

In addition to his worries about the roads meeting the needs of a new community, Brodie said he felt the developer's plan added too many residential units too quickly.

Brodie said those fears were eased somewhat by the modified proposal's reduction in density and the extended phase-in process. Brodie said he would be satisfied if this modified proposal was approved by the board.

The Kittleman-Merdon proposal would spread the building of the residential units evenly over the course of 12 years, rather than building more units early in the process, as did the original proposal. Pat DiCarlo, who "attended every hearing but one" on Maple Lawn Farms, said she was pleased to see the modified proposal.

"I felt like our testimony was falling on deaf ears, but I'm heartened by what is happening now," she said.

Before deciding on the fate of the Maple Lawn Farms development, the Zoning Board will hold another work session to discuss additional points in the Kittleman-Merdon proposal.

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