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Savage Mill development debate continues

Tensions ran high last night as testimony and debate continued over the proposed residential development of the Settlement at Savage Mill.

Savage residents have been battling developer Bozzuto Homes for the last three years about the company's plans to build 35 residential units, including a mix of duplexes and town homes, on property near Savage Park.

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Attendees at the meeting objected to the board's decision to have questions for the developer's representative Peter Stone given to him prior to the meeting, and read during the meeting by a county official. After several instances of interjections from the crowd, the board adjourned the meeting, eventually opting to allow individuals to ask questions themselves.

Stone spent more than an hour answering questions about how the developers planned for environmental protections on the property, as well as addressing concerns about stormwater management, sediment runoff and the potential for flooding in the area as a result of development. He answered the questions succinctly, referring to the multiple sets of county and state environmental and development regulations the plan follows.

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Howard County's planning board will continue considering 35-unit project near Savage Park on June 15 after several residents opposed the plan at the board's Thursday night meeting.

Some residents say the development will disturb the forested areas of the land, which is the first in the county to be zoned for environmental protection. The county is now considering swapping 2.73 acres of county-owned parkland, already razed for sewer construction, for 2.77 acres of the developer's land to minimize disturbance to the area.

The planning board's potential approval of the development plan is based on the assumption that the land will be swapped between the developer and the county, Department of Planning and Zoning Director Valdis Lazdins said. However, approval of the swap falls under the County Council's jurisdiction, and so was not allowed to be discussed during Tuesday's meeting.

The council will consider the swap after the plan is approved by the Planning Board. If the council does not approve the swap, Bozzuto Homes would be forced to redraw its plans on the original, developer-owned land, starting its approval process over again, Lazdins said.Bozzuto Homes would be forced to redraw its plans on the original, developer-owned land, starting its approval process over again, Lazdins said.

A proposed land swap between Howard County and a developer could facilitate the development of the Settlement at Savage Mill, a 35-unit near the Savage Mill.

The meeting then moved onto testimony, during which many residents stated their firm opposition to the project. Residents wondered why the planning board was considering the development before the council had approved the swap, as the project was contingent on that decision.

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No decision on the development plan was reached during the meeting; hearings will continue on Oct. 19.



Reach Kate Magill at kmagill@baltsun.com.

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