Farewell to fairways

October 07, 2002

SOME NEIGHBORS are upset about plans to convert Bonnie View Golf Course into 595 homes. And no wonder. If the expanse is developed, Mount Washington and Pikesville will lose a buffer of greenery, and traffic on narrow Smith Avenue will intensify.

The golf course has been sold. The question is not whether something will be built there but what, how and when. That's why Baltimore County, where most of the land is located, and the city should coordinate their approval processes.

Even though it would be virtually unprecedented, the two jurisdictions should combine public hearings on Beazer Homes' proposal. This way, officials and residents on both sides could see the totality of the project and its implications for Northwest Baltimore.

Beazer Homes has not submitted final plans. But it wants a planned unit development, where condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes would be clustered, akin to Pikesville's Avalon development. Residents would have to be 55 or older.

If this planned unit development is rejected, Beazer says current zoning allows it to build 605 homes but without clustering.

The planned unit concept clearly is preferable. The alternative could produce a jarring visual example of suburban sprawl. But traffic implications are serious and should be thoroughly aired and clearly understood.

Despite much lip service, regional planning is seldom successfully practiced. That's why Baltimore County and the city should work closely together on the Beazer proposal, making it a model for future cooperation.

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