Maple Lawn grows to add more business

Developer gains planners' approval for additional buildings

March 25, 2007|By [BY A SUN REPORTER]

The evolution of Maple Lawn, Maryland into a mini-city will be furthered by additional development of the business component of the luxury planned community near Fulton.

The owner and developer, Greenebaum and Rose Associates, intends to add a private school, bank, restaurant and retail building to the project that offers expensive homes, office space, shopping and open space on about 700 acres.

The Planning Board approved a site development plan for the buildings, which will house the new businesses, Thursday night. There was no public opposition to the application .

The buildings, each of which will be one story, will be on 7.3 acres and located on the southeast side of Maple Lawn Boulevard and Johns Hopkins Road, according to a staff report by the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Grading of the land is expected to begin in about a month, said Charlie O'Donovan, vice president of development for Greenebaum & Rose and project manager for Maple Lawn.

The school will be occupied by Columbia Academy, which provides preschool and day care services, O'Donovan said.

"They would like to go as quickly as we can," he said. But the school probably will not be ready until the fall of next year, O'Donovan said.

That is a continuation of a flurry of activity at Maple Lawn.

In late October, approval was obtained for 75 more housing units and four office buildings. And in January, the Planning Board approved an amended sketch plan that will greatly expand the development by increasing the number of acres restricted to residential development from 251 to 266; permitting 1,340 housing units, an increase of 224 units; expanding permitted business uses from 77 acres to 122 acres, and increasing the square footage by 684,552 square feet to 1.86 million square feet. It also increased land reserved for open space from 179 acres to 217 acres.

The development is designed after the so-called "old town," or traditional, concept of the early 20th century.

Homes are close together, and the project encourages pedestrian use and provides large open space, parks and playing fields. Walking and bicycle paths, a community center, a swimming pool and tennis courts are designed to bring residents together. Clusters of office and retail development are away from the homes but within walking distance.

The board on Thursday also:

Endorsed a proposal to provide the Department of Housing and Community Development with a $1.875 million grant for its land bank program.

The board's support is a recommendation to County Executive Ken Ulman, who is required to submit a capital budget by April 1 but is expected to on Friday.

The program allows for the acquisition of land "suitable for development of low, moderate and workforce housing," according to an analysis of the budget request that was provided to the Planning Board.

Marsha S. McLaughlin, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning, said the land bank program helps the county address the "housing affordability challenges," and gives housing officials the ability to move quickly when land is available.

"If they see an opportunity, they have some money to grab the property before a developer," she said.

Recommended that Ulman include $100,000 in the capital budget for an analysis of needed improvements to Whiskey Bottom Road from U.S. 1 to the Anne Arundel County line.

The road is heavily used, said Ronald G. Lepson, chief of the Bureau of Engineering, and use is expected to increase. A proposed development nearby and the expected population increase from military base realignment that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to Maryland is likely to affect traffic.

MI Developments Inc., the Canadian-based parent of the owner of the Laurel Park racetrack, has said it plans to construct a residential, retail and commercial complex on 64 acres in Howard County adjacent to the track.

"We want to be proactive and do some studies up front," Lepson said, so that the scope of road improvements is known early. He said he anticipated that developers would be required to finance some of the improvements.

Amended regulations to require developers seeking a conditional-use permit to hold "pre-submission" meetings with the community in a public or institutional building not more than five miles from the development site. There is no distance limitation now.

Councilwoman Courtney Watson proposed the change. Theo Wimberly, a senior analyst for the council, said that some developers have held the meetings in "buses or out in small buildings in the middle of the night." He said the council desired to "hold their feet to the fire."

The change, Planning Board member Gary Rosenbaum said, makes the regulations regarding conditional-use permits compatible with those that require public meetings before filing plans for subdivisions.

"Consistency is essential," he said.

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