New Colony's legal ordeal comes to an end

Development divided into lots, as promised

April 03, 2005|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The New Colony Village development was formally divided into individual house lots, as promised, Friday, ending a two-year legal ordeal for residents unable to sell or refinance their homes.

The subdivision filing prompted quiet celebration in the long-suffering Jessup community, residents said.

"We're very pleased. I'll finally be able to move forward with some things we plan to get done," said D'Wayne Strawbridge, who served on the 228-home community's steering committee.

A sign reporting the legal subdivision of the lots was posted at the entrance gate Friday, along with several celebratory balloons.

Howard County officials said Friday that developer Wayne Newsome delivered the last legal documents Friday and the subdivision was created, enabling residents to sell or refinance their homes for the first time in more than two years.

"It's finished. Hooray! Hooray! It's been endless. There has been a lot of agony on the citizens' part," said Marsha McLaughlin, the county planning director.

New Colony was hailed as a new way to provide affordable housing when it opened in 1997, but technically Newsome's development was a mobile home park. People bought the manufactured houses, but paid rent on the land. Eventually, as homeowners sought to sell or refinance, they found that banks would not provide mortgages on the houses without land.

Howard County stepped in two years ago and passed laws sponsored by County Councilman David A. Rakes, an east Columbia Democrat who represents the area, that allowed the smaller-than-normal lots to be subdivided and sold to residents.

That was the process completed Friday. Newsome was unavailable for comment.

"We definitely plan on refinancing our house, pay off some bills and finish the basement," Strawbridge said.

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