Board nears OK of AAMC site plan

Appeals panel discusses 114-unit development eyed for historic district

April 18, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

The plan to redevelop the former site of Anne Arundel Medical Center - the first major residential construction project in Annapolis' historic district in decades - appeared to satisfy the city's Board of Appeals last night.

The board expects to meet again to draft and vote on an official opinion on the proposed development.

In its discussion last night, the board seemed ready to approve the 114-unit Acton's Landing development of condominium apartments, townhouses and single-family homes, despite opposition by a group of nearby residents who had pushed for fewer homes on the site than proposed by the developer, a limited partnership led by Virginia-based Madison Homes.

The board's OK is the final zoning approval needed for the project and the last review of the overall site plan. But Acton's Landing still would have to get the approval of the city's Historic Preservation Commission, which reviews detailed design plans, architectural details and building materials before the developer can apply for demolition and building permits. Those hearings have not been scheduled.

In deliberations last night, the board decided not to give weight to the two main arguments presented by ALARM (Acton's Landing Area Residents Monitor) - one involving a deed on a half-acre parcel included in the development, the other concerning a designation of some units as institutions for the care of the elderly.

ALARM had argued that the 1935 deed gave the city ownership of the half-acre parcel, a point disputed by Madison Homes. Board members said they did not think the deed posed a problem.

The board seemed ready to add additional environmental protection measures aimed at maintaining the water quality of Spa Creek's Acton's Cove, which is adjacent to the development site.

Members also appeared ready to approve the project's planned waterfront park and a coffee shop.

After the meeting, the developers' attorney, Alan J. Hyatt, said: "After three years of extremely hard work, effort and diligence, we are very gratified that the board saw our application was a superior one, and we look forward to the next stage."

Next, however, could be an appeal by ALARM to Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Joseph F. Devlin, ALARM's attorney, said he would reserve judgment until the board's official decision, but was disappointed with its expected move of keeping the unit density at 114 units. He also criticized the board for considering the developer's previous unit reduction from 139 units to 114 during previous work with the city planning staff.

The Sun reported in January 2001 that the principals of Madison Homes, in their former company, Milton Co., faced three multimillion-dollar lawsuits in the early 1990s filed by condominium owners complaining about shoddy construction. Condominium owners at two of the complexes settled out of court, while those at the third went to trial and were awarded $6.7 million in 1994. The Milton Co. stopped doing business in 1992.

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