Planning Board rejects bid to rezone for senior housing in Ellicott City

Panel will recommend against allowing 50 more units on Chatham Road

February 17, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Howard County Planning Board rejected yesterday a rezoning application that would have permitted adding 50 housing units to the 82 planned for senior citizens in Ellicott City.

The Planning Board voted, 3-0, to oppose changing the zoning on a Chatham Road property from single-family residential to senior residential, which would have permitted age-restricted units.

"I've got a lot of problems with all the traffic. ... To get to that site, we're going by everyone's neighborhood," said Planning Board member David Grabowski.

The property is on Chatham Road, south of Frederick Road.

Columbia Housing Corp.'s plans call for 82 units, but Carol MacPhee, its executive director, said that with rezoning the number could have risen to 92. The nonprofit corporation is charged with providing low- and moderate-income housing in the county.

Residents of the area have objected to the possibility of higher density and heavier traffic.

Board member Linda A. Dombrowski said of the traffic issue that the "fallout is too significant" to support the rezoning.

In an interview, MacPhee said senior residential developments produce little additional traffic.

There is little debate over senior housing on the site. To a large degree, the dispute is over numbers, real and perceived.

Columbia Housing Corp. owns 4.3 acres zoned for senior residential housing. It is seeking rezoning for an additional 2.6 acres zoned single-family residential.

The corporation is permitted to build 82 units on the larger parcel. With rezoning of the smaller parcel, it could build 50 more units, although that is not planned.

"We would construct only on the [larger parcel]," MacPhee said. "The residents' concern is that we might add another 50. That's not our intention."

The plan, she said, is to construct two buildings "that look like mini-mansions," each with 10 rental units, and a larger building with 62 units. "From the road," MacPhee said, "it would look like a very upscale development."

The units would be restricted to residents ages 62 and older. Rents would range from $300 to $750 a month, she said.

The Planning Board's decision is a recommendation to the County Council, which is scheduled to consider the issue next week.

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