Towson Manor project could contain 160 homes

Planning board considers mix of condos, townhouses

July 21, 2006|By LAURA BARNHARDT | LAURA BARNHARDT,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore County's planning board yesterday got its first look at a recommended zoning change that would allow a developer to build townhouses and condominiums in a Towson neighborhood whose future has been in limbo for several years.

Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group is proposing to build up to 160 units and tear down aging, boarded-up duplexes in a 9-acre area in the Towson Manor Village neighborhood, east of Towson University.

Another developer, Bob Ward Co., abandoned plans last year to build townhouses and condominiums in the neighborhood after purchasing about 30 homes. The Harford County-based builder never reached an agreement with nearby residents about changing the zoning to allow the 360 units that the company wanted to build.

Bozzuto Group's approximately $64 million project, the product of negotiations between the company and residents, would contain 64 condos, 56 townhouses, 32 stacked townhouses and eight duplexes or single-family homes, said Valerie Covarrubias, a spokeswoman for Bozzuto. The homes would sell for $300,000 to more than $500,000 she said.

The company is negotiating with Bob Ward Co. on the purchase of its parcels, said Covarrubias.

Bozzuto Group's project has the support of residents and Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat.

"It's a compromise," said Stacy Weiss, vice president of zoning for the Towson Manor Village Community Association.

The Bozzuto proposal also resolves other issues, such as building heights, that worried residents in the previous proposal, said Ed Kilcullen, president of the community association.

"It wasn't them coming to us with a plan and us just reacting to it. We literally started from scratch," Kilcullen said.

Under current zoning, about 50 homes could be built in the area.

The zoning change is proposed in the Towson Manor Village enhancement study. Yesterday, the planning board scheduled a Sept. 7 hearing on the plan.

The community plan must also be adopted by the County Council before Bozzuto can build the condos and townhouses. And the project would have to go through the full development process, Gardina said.

Concerns remain about congestion at Burke Avenue and York Road, which has been designated by county traffic engineers as "failing," meaning that no developments can be built until the traffic problem is addressed.

Kilcullen said residents are hopeful that a traffic study being conducted in Towson will recommend changes that will divert traffic from the intersection. Reducing the number of cars in the area is preferable to widening roads or allowing more cars to pass through during traffic-signal cycles, Kilcullen said.

An access road into the Bozzuto development from Towsontown Boulevard could also help alleviate traffic problems in the area, he said.

Although not all property owners along Willow Avenue and Linden Terrace have agreed to sell for the new development, Kilcullen said that shouldn't prevent Bozutto from building.

"It wouldn't hinder the development," he said. "It would just have an odd shape to it."

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

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