By Brian Conlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:42 AM EST, February 6, 2012
One day after developer Enterprise Homes held a community meeting about its plan to build a senior living facility in Baltimore Highlands, 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk threw his support behind the project.
Quirk, who represents the area, said Friday he anticipated introducing the application for a planned unit development (PUD) at Monday's Baltimore County Council meeting.
"It's an exceptionally high-quality project," Quirk said, of the proposal to construct 90 senior living apartments on Oak Road behind Baltimore Highlands Elementary School. "I'm going to do everything I can as councilman to help continue the revitalization of Lansdowne and Baltimore Highlands."
During the Feb. 2 meeting, Ned Howe, a spokesman for Enterprise Homes, provided details about the project, addressed concerns and answered questions about the complex from the 20 people who attended the meeting at Christ United Methodist Church on Florida Avenue in Baltimore Highlands.
Howe explained that the four-story development on the 4.5-acre parcel would cost about $10 million and resemble a complex Enterprise Homes opened in Brooklyn Park known as The Greens at Hammonds Lane.
"That community is very similar to this community," Howe said, comparing the architecture and residents of the two areas. "We think this project would be just as successful and serve just as great a need."
With its population aging, Howe said Baltimore Highlands can be classifed as a "naturally occurring retirement community," where people may no longer have the ability to maintain their home.
"This would be an ideal facility for them to stay within the community they have grown up in," Howe said. "Also, perhaps (it would) open up housing for first-time home buyers that could reinvigorate, re-energize the community."
About 85 percent of the residents of Enterprise Homes senior living facilities come from within a three-mile radius, Howe said.
The price for the apartments has not been established, but Howe noted it could range from $400 to $600 per month.
The facility would have 90 parking spaces and include a cyber cafe, fitness room and community room with bar and lounge, Howe said.
After several members of the community expressed concerns about traffic, Howe noted that the complex in Brooklyn Park has little traffic entering and exiting the parking lot.
The average age of the residents is 75, he said, and they tend to use their vehicles less frequently than families.
One community member who said he lived only a few blocks away from the proposed site worried that the building would dwarf others in the area.
"There's a pretty decent slope heading to the back," Howe said. "With the site falling away from the road ... it makes the building fit. Even though it's a four-story building, it doesn't feel that way."
Enterprise Homes has pursued tax credits through the state but has not yet received financing, Howe said.
The earliest construction crews would break ground, Howe said, is by the end of the year. The start time, assuming the County Council votes to approve the PUD, depends on financing.
The PUD is necessary because the property is not zoned for multiple dwellings. The property is zoned residential and only allows for up to 5.5 units per acre.
Because the proposed project does not meet current zoning regulations, the developer applied for the PUD.
The PUD proposal, though, must show that the project is of a superior-quality and provides a clear public benefit.
"I think it's going to be a wonderful project and is very well-received in the community," Quirk said.
A community input meeting about the project is likely to take place in late March or early April, according to a representative of Enterprise Homes at Thursday's meeting.