CCBC drops plans for senior housing

Plan had drawn criticism from neighbors, politicians

February 26, 2005|By Joe Nawrozki and Lisa Goldberg | Joe Nawrozki and Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Pointing to the lack of support from community and political leaders, officials of the Community College of Baltimore County said yesterday that they have dropped plans to allow a private developer to build a senior housing complex on the Essex campus.

Mary C. DeLuca, a CCBC spokeswoman, said the board of trustees saw a "lack of external support in the surrounding communities and in government" and decided to eliminate the proposal, called CampusView. The $13.5 million facility would have been developed by Friends Care Inc.

Officials said in a release that board determined "it was in the best interest of the college and community to withdraw consideration at this time." The board was going to discuss the proposal at its meeting next month.

College officials hoped the complex would have intermingled students and seniors while bringing revenue to the college, which faces a $6 million deficit.

Over the past several weeks, the board received letters of concern about the plan from numerous community groups. Councilman Vincent J. Gardina also voiced his protest as college officials were exploring the leasing of a 5-acre lot on the campus' western corner for the proposed 133-unit housing complex for the elderly.

"It was a preposterous idea," Gardina said yesterday. "It would have taken prime athletic fields and, essentially, given that property to a developer.

"The fiscal impact," he said, "was tantamount to giving away prime real estate and that makes no sense for a college system with a $6 million deficit."

Dennis Eckard, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, said he was pleased about CCBC's decision. But, he said, "I hope they understand our real feeling, which is that this land was purchased for college use only.

"If they don't understand that," Eckard said, "then this is rather temporary."

Other community groups in Essex, Middle River and Oliver Beach wrote letters to the board protesting the plan.

Several years ago, a similar proposal at CCBC's Dundalk campus was dropped after community outcry.

The president of the board, Francis X. Kelly, indicated this week that the senior housing proposal faced an uphill battle. The decision to shelve the Essex project came in the same week as the resignation of CCBC Chancellor Irving Pressley McPhail.

The CCBC system will also likely lose Kelly, who has been nominated for the University of Maryland Board of Regents.

About 70,000 full- and part-time students attend classes at the CCBC system's three campuses and learning centers.

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