Doughoregan Manor rezoning challenged

Ellicott City resident appeals to circuit court

October 12, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

A man who lives on the eastern edge of historic Doughoregan Manor in Ellicott City has filed a circuit court appeal of Howard County rezoning to allow development of hundreds of new homes — a key part of a plan that allows some development in order to preserve the rest of the property.

The Carroll family, descendants of Charles Carroll of Carrolton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wants to develop part of the 892-acre property to raise money for restoration and maintenance of the estate that once comprised more than 10,000 acres, while keeping it in family hands.

The rezoning was unanimously approved in late July by the county zoning board, which is composed of the five County Council members. The written decision was dated Sept. 13.

The appeal could delay the plan to build up to 325 houses on a 221-acre parcel in the northeast corner of the estate near Frederick Road. Howard County would get 36 acres to expand Kiwanis-Wallas Park. The rest of the land, which sits between Route 108 and Frederick Road, would be preserved, including the nearly 300-year-old family mansion and several dozen outbuildings.

Residents along the eastern edge of the property nearest the development have complained about the potential increase in traffic, sewage problems and the visual impact of new homes. They feared developers would eventually gain access through Burnside Drive, a closed road near their homes, and several complained that the Carrolls, backed by historic preservation groups, county planners and others, were getting preferential treatment.

Their Chateau Ridge Lake Community Association decided not to pursue court action, but one resident is going ahead.

"From our perspective, we think we had a commitment from [the Carrolls] for not opening Burnside Drive and not putting in a sewage treatment plant," said Victor A. Ilenda, president of the association. "We were essentially making a decision on whether this was throwing good money after bad money."

Theodore Baruch, who lives on Chateau Ridge Drive, was among the residents who protested the deal, but so far is the only one to take legal action. Through attorney Andrea LeWinter, he filed a petition Oct. 8 for judicial review of the zoning decision without presenting any arguments, court officials said.

Baruch was not available for comment Tuesday, and Joseph Rutter, the Carrolls' land-use consultant, declined to comment.

The County Council separately approved allowing public water and sewerage for the development to allow the new homes to be clustered in one area, and a legal contract called a Developer's Rights and Responsibilities agreement laying out the terms of the arrangement.

At zoning hearings this summer, LeWinter argued on behalf of residents that the rezoning was part of a plan orchestrated in advance. She called it "spot zoning" and potentially "contract zoning," or a deal between a petitioner and zoning authorities. Both arguments were rejected by the board.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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