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Clarksville residential development could be annexed into Columbia

Over 180 homes are planned for 60 acres adjacent to the headquarters of W.R. Grace in Columbia's village of River Hill.
Over 180 homes are planned for 60 acres adjacent to the headquarters of W.R. Grace in Columbia's village of River Hill. (Rendering courtesy of GF Columbia)

Simpson Oaks, a 184-home suburban development in Clarksville, could be annexed into Columbia Association's limits, a move that would make future homeowners lien-paying members of the large homeowner's association.

The project, which was announced by developer GF Columbia LLC last fall, will build 103 single-family homes and 81 townhomes on 67 acres of land located off Quiet Night Ride, which abuts the border of the Columbia Village of River Hill. The project is expected to be completed in 2020, according to the developer.

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According to CA General Counsel Sheri Fanaroff, CA only annexes property if the owner of the land requests it and if terms of an annexation agreement can be reached. She said decisions for annexation are weighed on a case-by-case basis and are approved by the CA president.

The CA Board of Directors, a 10-member governing body made up of residents elected from each of the community's 10 villages, does not have to authorize the annexation, according to Fanaroff.

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CA President and CEO Milton Matthews said last week at a board meeting that the directors would be consulted prior to an annexation.

Fanaroff said in a memo to the board that she recommends the annexation under certain conditions. If successful in its attempt to be annexed by CA, the development will likely be annexed into the Village of River Hill – a smaller, CA-affiliated homeowner's association.

The River Hill village association is in favor of the annexation, according to officials. Fanaroff said CA often consults with the nearest village regarding their support prior to the annexation.

Fanaroff said the primary benefit of annexing the property is increased revenue to the organization, which collects an annual charge from all properties within its limits. The charge is calculated using the assessed evaluation of each individual home. For the past several years, the charge has been $0.68 per $100 of assessed evaluation divided by half – less than one percent of the home's value.

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According to the development's website, the homes are anticipated to cost between $450,000 and $500,000; if the percentage remains the same, the annual charge for those homes would be between $1,600 and $1,800.

In exchange for the charge, residents get discounted rates and increased access to CA's amenities, such as . Those include 93.5 miles of pathways, 23 outdoor swimming pools, three gyms, an ice hockey rink, tennis facilities, a dog park and more.

Fanaroff said one possible reason not to annex would be an increased cost to CA through maintenance of infrastructure, like pathways or other amenities.

There are several pathways proposed in the Simpson Oaks project, but Fanaroff said it is likely the pathways will become the responsibility of the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, which operates nearby pathways the system will link to.

The developable land was previously owned by W.R. Grace Co., a technology and chemical company located nearby. The property, which is not zoned for residential use, is being developed through a new zoning review process that allows zoning changes outside the traditional comprehensive zoning process, which happens once every 10 years.

The process allows for properties to be rezoned into Community Enhancement Floating (CEF) districts if it provides "design features and enhancements which are beneficial to the community."

In this project, the enhancements will be additional pathways supporting the existing system in the neighborhood, which includes pathways used by the Robinson Nature Center located nearby.

The original development called for more than 200 homes on the site, but residents of River Hill and adjacent Clarksville neighborhoods said it was too dense. The project has since been decreased by approximately 20 units, almost all townhomes.

This story has been changed to include more accurate assessment estimates in the proposed homes. The assessments would likely range between $1,600 and $1,800. 

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