Compromise near on project at hospital site

Appeal of housing plans could be dismissed, say attorneys for both sides

`Gives us more green space'

Agreement would reduce the number of units on 4.5 acres from 114 to 111

October 17, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford and Andrea F. Siegel | Amanda J. Crawford and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The developers of the residential project planned for the former hospital site in downtown Annapolis expect to reach a compromise with opponents that would allow it to go forward.

Alan J. Hyatt, the developers' attorney, and Joseph F. Devlin, an attorney representing six Murray Hill residents who have appealed the project's approval, said yesterday that they could finalize a deal in about a week to dismiss the legal challenge.

"We have reached an agreement in principle that three units would be eliminated from the project," said Hyatt, who represents the development group led by northern Virginia-based Madison Homes.

The agreement would reduce the number of units in the development of condominiums, town houses and single-family houses from 114 to 111. The developers originally sought approval from the city for 130 homes on the 4.5-acre site.

The two sides are working out the pact's wording, Hyatt said.

The development's opponents -- part of a group known as Acton's Landing Area Residents Monitor, or ALARM -- filed an appeal in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in June, seeking to overturn the approval by the city's Board of Appeals.

ALARM has charged that the project does not have enough green space and does not fit well into the quiet, century-old neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. But the community was divided on the plans, with leaders of the Murray Hill Residents Association supporting them.

The expected agreement between developers and opponents would eliminate two single-family homes and one town house. Instead of six single-family homes along the planned waterfront park, there would be four slightly larger homes with bigger yards. The five town houses along lower South Street would be reduced to four.

"It gives us more green space. What it does really, which has been our mantra, is to provide a better transition to this part of Murray Hill," said William J. Kardash, a nearby resident and an ALARM leader. "We were objecting to what we were calling the canyonization of South Street."

The pact would not affect the 84-unit condominium building on Cathedral Street. If the agreement is reached, it would leave the condominium building, 11 single-family houses, a duplex and 14 town houses.

The appeal had threatened to further stall the project, already a year behind schedule. The delay followed an investigation last year by The Sun that revealed a history of lawsuits involving -- and construction flaws in other residential developments built by -- the heads of Madison Homes in a previous company.

Demolition of most of the existing buildings had been planned for the spring, after Anne Arundel Medical Center moved to a site off Route 50 just outside of town in December.

If an agreement is reached and the project gets the approval of the city's Historic Preservation Commission, demolition could begin by spring or summer, Hyatt said.

On Oct. 24, the Historic Preservation Commission is expected to schedule hearings for next month, Hyatt said. He is optimistic that the panel will approve the development.

"I don't expect the HPC will turn the project down; it is a matter of fine-tuning the architecture," Hyatt said.

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