Changes backed for Turf Valley

More homes, retail space asked by Mangione family for project

Robey administration supports plan

Planning Board schedules a public hearing for Oct. 7

Ellicott City

September 08, 2004|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The Robey administration is backing a plan that would allow construction of more homes and larger commercial areas at Turf Valley -- one of a series of recommended zoning changes to become public today as a new round of land-use decisions begins.

Called "Comp Lite" after last year's larger comprehensive rezoning covering the county, this limited list of leftover issues ranges from how to prepare the U.S. 40 corridor for the future to new ways of encouraging affordable housing for seniors.

The county Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 7, and the County Council is likely to hold hearings in November.

FOR THE RECORD - An article Wednesday incorrectly reported Howard County planner Jeff Bronow's fiscal analysis of revised plans to develop Turf Valley.
Bronow's analysis found that the project would likely produce up to $4.35 million a year in added income and property tax revenues over 20 years, partly because the "market values of the units are high." New costs - in the form of new county school students - are likely to be lower, he said, because of the high number of condominiums, which tend to generate fewer children.
The Sun regrets the error.

Yesterday, a citizens committee examined revised plans by the Mangione family to develop its 809-acre Turf Valley golf course community.

A county study showed that with changes the family wants in the 18-year-old zoning, the project likely would contribute up to $4.35 million a year in new revenue beyond the cost of up to 385 more students expected to enter classrooms from those homes, county and schools officials said.

High prices for the units, ranging from $300,000 for condominiums to $800,000 for detached homes, probably would hold down the number of new children coming from the development, said planner Jeff Bronow.

The Mangiones would like changes to allow 1,730 homes instead of 1,608 and 119,000 square feet of retail space instead of 72,000 square feet -- if the county agrees.

Several Turf Valley residents, led by Marc Norman and Frank Martin, are pushing for lower density, arguing that county officials are glossing over the project's impact in the area, along with Waverly Woods and other developments.

That dispute bubbled up yesterday in an exchange over traffic study figures, which Louis Mangione, vice president of Mangione Family Enterprises and a committee member, said he is not ready to release.

"Certain people look at it to further their agendas and down- zone or stop Turf Valley," Mangione said.

Norman complained that the group was promised traffic estimates as early as February. County Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, the western county Republican who created the committee, said he also would like to see the numbers.

But Mangione lawyer Richard B. Talkin said the final number and configuration of homes aren't decided, thus delaying traffic estimates.

Mangione said his firm is trying to resolve environmental issues with wetlands. The company requires approval by state and federal authorities before it can build a new access to the land from Marriottsville Road, which also must be widened.

After the meeting, Norman said he is not satisfied with Mangione's plans. "We're disappointed and surprised that the developer continues to withhold information," he said.

Kittleman said during the meeting that he is trying to keep the community and the County Council informed.

"My big thing is to make sure everyone has as much information as possible," he said.

After the last meeting of the group Sept. 28, the committee will pass on the information it gathered to the full council, which will make final zoning decisions early next year.

Some new issues

Some of the new issues, such as the debate over Turf Valley, might be contentious.

For example, County Executive James N. Robey's planners are asking for a series of five changes designed to encourage more flexible, smaller and more affordable groupings of homes for seniors.

Last year, that kind of idea caused an issue over compatibility of new senior housing with older neighborhoods in Ellicott City's Font Hill.

But Marsha McLaughlin, the county planning director, said the changes are designed to fix that problem with controls to make sure that senior housing is compatible with existing homes. At the same time, the idea is topromote more senior housing that is affordable.

"We have a lot of senior housing in the pipeline, but it's all top-end," she said. Changes that would again allow fewer than 50 units as conditional uses would use stronger design controls and size limits to promote more moderately priced dwellings.

Senior housing zone

A new kind of senior housing zone would allow three or four units clustered in one building on at least 1 acre. The building would look like a single-family detached home from the outside.

In the western county, mixing some housing for people ages 55 and older on land zoned for business could benefit residents and businesses alike, according to a summary of the proposals.

The administration proposals -- all subject to change after the public hearing -- were to be available on the county Web site at

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