Sigaty's building cap bills to die

Fight over 23-story apartment tower in Columbia is headed to court

November 02, 2007|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun staff

Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty said yesterday that she does not have enough support for two bills to limit the size of buildings in central Columbia and will allow them to die at Monday night's Howard County Council meeting.

"At this time, I am absolutely convinced I don't have the votes to pass them. I'll leave them on the table and move forward with the downtown master plan," the west Columbia Democrat said.

The two bills -- one limiting the height of any new building to 150 feet and the other allowing new county laws to affect projects still under appeal -- were tabled by the council at its Oct. 1 meeting.

If Sigaty's bills die, the fight over the 23-story Plaza Residences tower that WCI Communities wants to build on Little Patuxent Parkway will move to the courts.

Alec Adams, an attorney for four residents trying to block the tower, said the group is awaiting a hearing before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. They hope the court will order the case returned to the county Board of Appeals for a full hearing on the issues, even though WCI has its building permits and has begun construction.

William Rowe, Mid-Atlantic regional vice president of WCI, said construction has paused awaiting a county inspection before the next phase of the project gets under way. The firm is more concerned about Sigaty's bills than about the court case, Rowe said.

"We thought the legislation is the biggest risk. We have a handful of rulings in our favor" on the court case, he said.

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