Neighbors oppose plans to convert country club into housing community

Residents say proposals would increase traffic, lower property values

February 25, 2003|By Abby Foster | Abby Foster,SUN STAFF

Beazer Homes, a Baltimore-area developer, has proposed two plans to convert the Bonnie View Country Club in Pikesville into a residential community. But both have run into stiff opposition from neighbors who fear a sudden influx of new residents and severe traffic congestion.

One plan envisions a development for "active adults" ages 55 and older. This proposal includes 546 dwellings - 226 condominiums, 178 townhouses, and 142 single-family homes. The second would create a community of 367 detached homes to be called Bonnie View Estates.

Both plans were submitted to the planning offices in Baltimore County and the city, because part of the 160-acre golf course extends into Baltimore's Mount Washington neighborhood.

The country club plans to move to a 217-acre site at Mount Gilead Road and Route 30 in Reisterstown.

The Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition - which represents Baltimore County neighborhoods near the country club - opposes both Beazer Homes proposals.

But members are especially unhappy with the 546-dwelling proposal, which they say would bring too many new residents into the area, provide inadequate property buffers and focus on a single age group.

The coalition supports the idea of a single-family home development without age restrictions, because it would encourage families to move to the area. But it would prefer that approximately 300 homes be built, rather than the 367 proposed by the developer.

Residents say they are fond of the family atmosphere in their neighborhoods, want to maintain the quality of the local public schools and are concerned about preserving open space.

"We want to maintain as much contiguous green space as possible," said Lois Jacobs, chairwoman of the coalition's Community Action Plan Oversight Committee.

The country club property is divided by Smith Avenue, a two-lane road. Neighbors say they are worried that their property values will drop because of the traffic generated by the proposed developments.

George Rathlev, manager of land acquisition for Beazer Homes, acknowledged that the adult community proposal would bring more residents into the area than the alternate plan, but he said it would also preserve more green space.

The proposal, he explained, would include fewer - but taller - buildings than the single-family home community.

Rathlev explained that the active-adult plan would result in "a smaller impact in local automobile traffic and less of an impact on the local schools" than the alternate proposal.

Zoning for the country club allows construction of single-family homes. The adult community proposal includes buildings and age restrictions that are not permitted under current zoning. That means the plan would have to be reviewed by the county Planning Board and a zoning officer, who would conduct public hearings.

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