Age-restricted townhomes proposed near Ellicott City's west end

A tract of land near Ellicott City's west end may become the location of a senior townhome community, engineers said at a community meeting Wednesday. 

Local developer Lou Mangione, owner of Commercial Contractors, has plans to request a conditional use for the project, called Toll House Townhomes. 

The project would bring 67 age-restricted townhouses to a tract of land between Toll House Road, Main Street and Old Columbia Pike. The plot sits on a hill overlooking Main Street. 

According to Nicholas Barrick, a project engineer for Fulton-based KCI Technologies, which is designing the development, the townhouses would be two-stories tall and would feature a two-car garage and driveway. There are also plans for a community clubhouse with a small, 11-car parking lot for meetings and parties. 

Barrick said access to the neighborhood would be through a connection to Main Street. The community would have a secondary entrance at Manahan Drive exclusively for the use of fire and rescue crews in case of emergency. That entrance would be guarded by a locked gate and would feature a stabilized grass road. 

According to Mangione's attorney, Sang Oh, the project would need to obtain a conditional use approval from the county's hearing examiner before it can move forward. That's because the land is in an environmental development zone, which does not permit age-restricted housing -- defined as homes for people 55 and older -- by right. 

West end residents who turned out for the meeting said they had serious concerns about traffic and the project's impact on flooding in the area. The west end, which is home to the Tiber and Hudson rivers, has struggled with flooding problems, particularly in 2011, when Tropical Storm Lee caused flash floods and extensive property damage. Longtime residents have said they believe runoff from development uphill has worsened the problem. 

Barrick said the project would include scattered micro-bioretention facilities to capture water and help it percolate through the soil. Inlets along the road would also channel water to a stormwater facility, he said.

Project plans will next go to the hearing examiner for a conditional use approval. Oh said he expected there would be a hearing in about three months. 

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