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Senior housing, apartments, storage facility planned for Constant Friendship parcel

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An Abingdon business park brimming with commercial tenants, including Walmart, which has proposed a controversial move out, could get some additional faces, if Harford County officials approve plans to build senior citizen housing, a garden apartment complex, storage facility and community center on 15.54 acres.

The residential, commercial and recreational facilities would be built in Constant Friendship Business Park at the end of Arundel Court, between the Target store and separate storage facilities.

The project has been named Riverwoods at Tollgate.

Constant Friendship, a short distance from the Route 24 and I-95 interchange, is already home to a number of large retail tenants, including Walmart, Target, BJ's Wholesale Club, Lowe's Home Improvement and PetSmart, dining establishments such as McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.

Other tenants include Regal Cinemas movie theaters, a Baltimore County Savings Bank branch, Wine World and Extra Space Storage.

A concept site plan has been designed by Frederick Ward Associates of Bel Air. The plan, which was the subject of a recent community input meeting, calls for a 72-unit mid-rise senior housing complex, an 84-unit garden apartment complex, a 58,000-square-foot storage facility and a 4,000-square-foot community center.

The land is zoned commercial-industrial.

Lou Schaffer, a project manager with Frederick Ward, said Tuesday that a concept plan will be submitted for review by the county's Development Advisory Committee in December, and it will undergo a hearing before the members of the committee in mid-January.

Schaffer said about 15 people attended the community input meeting Nov. 21 at the Abingdon branch of the Harford County Public Library.

"Their only real concern was traffic," he said.

Schaffer said multi-use developments, such as the one proposed for Constant Friendship, are designed for people who want to "live closer to where they work."

He said people who work at a Constant Friendship Business Park establishment could potentially live in the apartments, as could people who use I-95 to get to work.

"That makes this particular area attractive, and it has the proper zoning for it to occur," Schaffer explained.

The business park, which is served by the three-lane Constant Friendship Boulevard, often has heavy traffic from patrons of the stores and restaurants.

Schaffer said measures to mitigate impacts from increased traffic are "still to be determined."

Edward Hopkins, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said deputies who worked during the recent Black Friday sales at the major retailers reported that the level of traffic at Constant Friendship was typical for a Black Friday.

"Certainly there was traffic congestion, but they felt it was manageable and not anything extraordinary," Hopkins said.

The business park has one entrance and one exit at Constant Friendship Boulevard and Tollgate Road, which Hopkins, along with county Economic Development Director Jim Richardson, noted as a factor in traffic congestion.

"We want to be included in the planning process, because that increased development brings increased foot traffic, increased vehicular traffic and we have to be prepared to respond to incidents that are created because of that type of development," Hopkins said of the Sheriff's Office.

Richardson said county leaders have "always been trying to figure out an alternative" to the one-way-in, one-way-out design of the business park.

Despite the congestion, Richardson said he thinks the business park has been "very well utilized" by its tenants.

He said houses have been built in recent decades on land where a "loop road" could be built, to allow for a second entrance and exit.

"Dead ends are never a good development model, but that's what we have," Richardson explained. "We have to deal with it."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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