Homes plan in historic area tears Annapolis

Appeals board to hear neighbors, developer

March 31, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis Board of Appeals will hold its final hearing Tuesday night on plans for the first major redevelopment project in the historic district in decades - the construction of 114 homes at the former site of Anne Arundel Medical Center.

But whether the board approves, rejects or modifies plans for Acton's Landing, the project is likely to end up in court, leaving boarded-up buildings for several months longer than anticipated when the 4.5-acre site was vacated in December.

The meeting - the board's sixth - will feature closing arguments by attorneys for the developer, a limited partnership led by Virginia-based Madison Homes, and neighbors who oppose the project and have formed a group known as ALARM (Acton's Landing Area Residents Monitor).

ALARM has pushed for a reduction in the number of homes on the southern end of the property, while the developer has protested any move to reduce the number of homes. Both sides have said they will take their case to court if they do not get their way.

At Tuesday's meeting, the developer's attorney, Alan J. Hyatt, will try to win approval of the plan for townhouses, condominiums and single-family homes.

Originally submitted with 139 units, the project was scaled back to 114 units by the city's planning staff.

"Any further reduction could cause the project not to go forward," Hyatt said.

If the number of homes is reduced or if the proposal is rejected, Hyatt said the developer might appeal to Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Last year, Hyatt filed suit when the board reduced the number of single-family homes in another client's project, the King's Port development, formerly called Crab Cove, from 172 to 163. About six months later, a circuit judge sided with the developer and approved plans for the larger number of homes.

If the Acton's Landing proposal is not approved in its current form, Hyatt said the developer would consider converting the abandoned hospital buildings for a commercial use instead of demolishing them. That would not require as extensive a review process but has been strongly opposed by nearby residents.

"I think that if the board evaluates what they have heard on these many nights ... then it will approve the plan as we have proposed," Hyatt said.

ALARM contends that the project does not fit into the neighborhood and does not leave enough open space.

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