An appeals hearing on a 722-home planned unit development proposed for Gambrills has been delayed until August while the opposing sides try to iron out a compromise.

Residents opposing the plans and developers said they have been meeting for several weeks trying to work out a plan that could reduce the number of homes by 100.

"We believe there has been a meeting of the minds," said Anthony Christhilf, an attorney representing the partners making up Crofton Farms. "We have had meaningful negotiations."

The development encompasses 221 acres off Waugh Chapel Road near Route 3. It is being built by Leimbach Development Inc. of Glen Burnie and the Halle Cos., a Silver Spring-based developer also building Seven Oaks in Odenton.

An administrative hearing officer approved the project in March, rejecting the arguments of a vocal contingent of neighbors that called the development incompatible with the rural area and disastrous for a wilderness habitat.

Paul and Maureen McHugh and Thomas and Dorothy Watts of St. Stephen's Church Road appealed the decision in March. A new hearing date has been set for Aug. 28 and 29.

Christhilf said that even if the two sides reach a compromise before the end of next month, the appeals hearing still must be held because the original plans would be altered.

The opponents argue that developers should not build a high-density project but should be required to follow 1989regulations enacted during comprehensive rezoning.

The developerssay that they could build just as many homes under current zoning restrictions but want a special exception to build a PUD so all developers can work in concert on a cohesive project that would include a school and a baseball field.

Both Christhilf and Frederick Sussman, an attorney representing the Watts, said the negotiations center on the northern edge of the planned development, an area of roughly 70 acres.

They say residents living along St. Stephens Church Road don't want town houses close to their homes. Christhilf said the developers are considering putting all the town houses farther south, near Riedel Road, and then spacing out single-family homes near the area of concern.

The lawyers said that could reduce the number of homes inthe development from 722 to 625.

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