Way is clear for a 12th high school

Two zoning variances OK'd for Marriottsville

February 04, 2003|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Council last night unanimously approved two zoning variances to clear the way for construction of a 12th county high school, on Woodford Drive in Marriottsville across from Mount View Middle School.

The council action came despite determined opposition from residents who believe the site is too small and will generate too much traffic.

"It's not an easy vote for me," said Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican, who said he is not happy with the size of the building or the process of selecting the site.

"The problem is, we need it," he added.

County officials and parents say the proposed $48 million school is needed to relieve future high school crowding in the north-central portion of Howard, despite the opening of the county's 11th high school, Reservoir High, in Fulton in August.

At a council work session last week, Bill Brown, capital budget specialist for the county schools, said the height variance that would allow the proposed three-story high school to be 45 feet 4 inches tall instead of the normal 34 feet will allow savings of money and time because the county is using a prototype design employed for construction of Long Reach and Reservoir high schools.

Brown also said the school will have 591 parking places, which should prevent neighborhood complaints of student parking overflows. To get that many spaces, a variance from the standard 50-foot setback to 45 feet is needed, Brown said.

Kittleman closely questioned Brown and Bruce M. Venter, chief business officer for the schools.

Brown said the county wants the school open in 2005, which means work must begin this year. Although the Mount View site is not perfect, school officials said, no better spot is available in that area. County-owned land in Cooksville that was recently sold to private religious school and a larger park site in West Friendship are too far west, they said.

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