The new development is still slated for 55-and-over residents, and a website for the property says, "The Preserve at Two Rivers will offer a fully amenitized, serene environment to enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle at 55 or better."
Lifting age restrictions to build schools is unique to Anne Arundel County in the area, as zoning officials in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County and Howard County say they have no such exemptions.
In April, the developer of an 182-unit subdivision in Crofton, the Enclave at Reidel Pond, sought to have an age-restriction requirement lifted but first needed the school board to redistrict the land to serve three schools that were open to subdivisions: Crofton Meadows Elementary, Arundel Middle and Arundel High School. The school board voted in favor of the move.
Anne Arundel school officials said they met in August with Forks residents as well as others in the community. School officials said that not only would the proposed school address crowding concerns, it would include athletic facilities that could be used by county parks and recreation after school hours.
Still, some residents of other communities opposed the move as well.
Jeff Andrade of the nearby Piney Orchard community, who spoke in opposition to the move before the school board in August, argued that the system shouldn't include the proposed school in its plans until a final decision about the age restriction is made. He also said that Evergreen Road would be extended into the Piney Orchard community, disrupting existing traffic patterns.
"It's a lot for the average Joe Citizen to watch over their government when an issue comes up like that," Andrade said. "You expect that your public officials have your best interests there, and it's clear that that's not what's going on."
Asked about the system's inclusion of Evergreen Elementary in redistricting plans, Yocum said that "to keep things going in the right direction," the board approved the concept "under the assumption that the developer would eventually come into an agreement to build the new school."
Yocum, the schools specialist in demographic planning, said the proposed school could be built without the road extension.
Larry Tom, Anne Arundel planning and zoning officer, said that if the developers are not allowed to build now, the project will be placed on a six-year waiting list. If the development is still on the list at the end of six years, it can move ahead regardless of any restrictions in the area.
Tom said the code allows for a project to proceed after six years so the property owner is not penalized. He added, "But it's a long time to tie up your property."