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Community input meeting for apartments, assisted living center at Route 924 and Plumtree postponed due to coronavirus

A community input meeting on plans to build apartment units, a senior living facility and retail shops at Route 924 and Plumtree Road in Bel Air South has been postponed following Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement Thursday that gatherings of 250 people or more are prohibited due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Richlin Catering and Event Center in Edgewood, but those who arrived before the start time encountered signs posted at the main entrance indicating the meeting had been postponed, along with events scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Richlin.

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Engineer Tom Miner, of Frederick Ward Associates in Bel Air, was on hand for the meeting, and he spent some time outside the event center talking with people about the project. Developers plan to build 205 units of multi-family housing, a senior living facility with 86 units and 186,080 square feet of space for entertainment, office and retail uses, according to a description posted on the Harford County website.

The property is more than 33 acres, and it is between Route 24 and Route 924, bordered by Plumtree Road at the north end, according to Miner. People asked him a number of questions about the project, expressing concerns about matters such as the impact to traffic on Route 924 and whether the apartment units would be open to low-income tenants.

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A makeup date for the community input meeting has not been set yet, but a notice will be sent out, via methods such as signs posted on the property and newspaper advertisements, at least two weeks before the new meeting date, Miner said.

The property, which is mostly wooded, was slated in 2012 as the location for a 186,000 square-foot Walmart store. The retail giant announced in 2015 that it would no longer pursue plans to build there, though, after running into several years of sustained opposition from the surrounding community, a requirement of $6 million worth of traffic improvements from the county government, and the expiration of Walmart’s contract to purchase the site.

Events involving more than 250 people at the Richlin Catering and Event Center in Edgewood have been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people to help slow the spread of the illness.
Events involving more than 250 people at the Richlin Catering and Event Center in Edgewood have been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people to help slow the spread of the illness.(David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Richlin events postponed

An Extreme Family Outreach event scheduled for Friday at Richlin has been postponed to June 6, and a Saturday event for the Hickory Hornets U12 baseball team also has been postponed, but a new date was not indicated on the sign posted at the main entrance.

Hogan announced Thursday that gatherings of more than 250 are prohibited in Maryland, one of a series of measures put in place by the state government to limit the spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The respiratory disease has sickened more than 1,200 people and caused 36 deaths so far in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“Certainly, we want to follow the guidelines and the stipulations set forth from [the governor’s] office,” Steven Vitali, owner of Richlin, said Thursday.

There have been 12 confirmed cases in Maryland as of Thursday, including one in Harford County. The most recent case, affecting a Prince George’s County man, was determined to be spread by community transmission, meaning the illness is moving from person to person in the community, rather than being picked up through travel abroad.

The governor and other state leaders announced multiple measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 such as the closing of all public schools for two weeks, starting Monday. Senior centers also have been closed around the state, and Harford County Public Library branches canceled programs and events, and opted to close to the public late last week.

Jury trials also have been postponed in federal and state courts, and major sporting and community events have been canceled or postponed.

Vitali, who has been with the Richlin event center since 1989, said “we have not encountered anything of this nature” in the past. Events at the facility have been affected by inclement weather, “but not illness-related scenarios,” he said.

Richlin is still open for smaller events, and staff can work with event organizers regarding their choices. The facility typically hosts five to a dozen events a week in March and April, depending on the type and number of people involved, according to Vitali.

Employees have been keeping the center sanitized even before the governor’s announcement, and “we will continue to do that,” Vitali said. People can call 410-671-7500 or visit the Richlin Catering & Event Center page on Facebook for more information.

“We certainly want everybody to be healthy and not put anybody at risk, especially our staff and our clients,” Vitali said.

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