Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Community Input to Zoning Issues

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, October 31, 2006

From the Baltimore Examiner

I wish they had quoted Ken Ulman and Calvin Ball.

Howard County residents are challenging the housing commission’s authority to move forward with a Frederick Road development.

“We question the whole legality of it,” said Patrick Crowe, a member of the west Ellicott City residents’ group Friends of Font Hill, referring to the Centennial Gardens development.

The group is responding to a killed measure that would have allowed the commission to partner with developers to build affordable housing on commercially zoned land, in particular, Centennial Gardens.

“My understanding is the project is moving forward despite the bill, but there are a lot of questions about whether this project can legally proceed,” said Council Member Chris Merdon, R-District 1, who opposes the planned development.

The project would provide at least 59 residential units on 2 1/2 acres.

“It’s completely incompatible with the existing neighborhood,” Merdon said.

“It’s too dense and too high.”

Merdon said he plans to ask the Department of Housing and the Office of Law about the Housing Commission’s authority to move on this development.

“The land was transferred to the Housing Commission with the expectation by the developer that they would be teamed together on it,” Merdon said, adding that questions remain on whether the commission can partner with the developer, France Property I LLC, in that way.

However, the commission has authority to build housing on commercially zoned land it owns, and the killed bill does not stop them from moving forward on the project, said Neil Gaffney, deputy director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

France Property sold the property to the commission, and it is no longer involved, Gaffney said.

“The comission now owns that piece of property, so we could in fact go ahead with the development process,” he said.

Crowe said he also was concerned with the timing of the bill in relation to the Centennial Gardens deal.

Council Member Calvin Ball, D-District 2, introduced the proposal in early September and the deal dated late September. The legislation was withdrawn amidst criticism that the bill was a zoning measure.

“We want someone to explain to us why the community wasn’t involved from the very beginning on this project,” Crowe said.

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2 Responses to “Community Input to Zoning Issues”

  1. Fran said

    Boo!

  2. observer said

    comp lite BS all over again??

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