Howard Week

October 14, 2001

Older townhouses selling quickly in Columbia

A funny thing is happening amid all the worry about Columbia sagging into middle age - some of its oldest townhouses are selling like hotcakes. Multiple buyers are competing to pay asking price or more on the first day a decades-old townhouse hits the market.

"It's like the old days," said Lanny Morrison, chairman of the Columbia Council, who reminisced about a time decades ago when eager buyers camped out to buy those same houses new.

"Anything you put on the market is super hot and going quickly," said Realtor Louis M. Pope.

Older townhouses "are just being vacuumed up," said Jim Bodine, another real estate agent.

According to the Metropolitan Regional Information System, which tracks real estate sales, 30 percent more Columbia townhouses were sold from April 1 to Sept. 30 this year at an average price 17 percent higher than two years ago. Sales rose from 347 units in that time period in 1999 to 451 units this year, and the average price rose from $129,322 in 1999 to $151,425 this year.

Patuxent treatment plant to limit nitrogen pollution

In what could become a model for Maryland, state, Howard County and Chesapeake Bay Foundation officials agreed in principle Tuesday on terms for limiting nitrogen pollution from wastewater released from an expanded Patuxent River sewage treatment plant.

The agreement could set a standard for treatment plants on rivers that ring the bay and, at the local level, will allow increased Patuxent wastewater flows to accommodate Howard growth.

Nitrogen is widely viewed as the most dangerous pollutant in the bay - removing oxygen vital for bay grasses, shellfish and other creatures. The argument over how to limit it in the face of continuing development has been one of the most challenging environmental problems facing the state.

Hollifield Station residents repulse development

Families in Ellicott City's Hollifield Station neighborhood threw themselves into a consuming, 20-month fight against commercial development in their neighborhood and won. Now they're taking another extraordinary step to guarantee that they'll never have to do it again.

After a Howard County board rejected plans for a large day care center in their residential community, a dozen families pooled their money this summer and bought the contested property.

But they're not intending to control the 2.5 acres at Rogers Avenue and Old Frederick Road by keeping it. They put it on the market with an asking price of $329,000 and a restriction that only one house will be allowed on the land.

Advisory panel approves 2 school redistricting plans

During an intense meeting attended by more than 100 parents Monday night, members of a citizens advisory committee approved for further consideration the rough outlines of two redistricting plans that could send as many as 3,000 Howard County high school students to new schools next fall.

The committee rejected two others but said it might consider other, entirely new plans this week.

The school board must make a final decision on redistricting by early next year to begin preparations to shift 1,332 students out of existing high schools to the new Reservoir High School.

Parents urge more be done to reduce school crowding

Howard County school officials need to be more pro-active and more creative when dealing with the issue of school crowding, according to dozens of parents and community members who spoke Wednesday night about the superintendent's proposed 2003 capital budget and the longer-term capital improvement plan.

The $63.6 million plan - which includes a 117-seat addition to Clarksville Middle School and adds 50 seats to an addition planned for Rockburn Elementary - is $7 million more than last year's plan.

Man sentenced to time served for explosives possession

Richmond C. Laney, the former Howard County sheriff's candidate convicted of keeping explosives in his Fels Lane house, will spend no additional time in jail.

Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. handed Laney, 44, concurrent sentences of 10 years and five years in prison for each of two explosives charges Thursday, but suspended all but one year and 37 days - the time the former Ellicott City man spent in jail awaiting trial.

Kane also placed Laney on five years' supervised probation and ordered him not to keep weapons, specifically military weapons.

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