The county Planning Board yesterday approved plans for a 61-unit town house development opposed by neighboring Savage residents, who fearit will bring traffic problems and worsen overcrowding problems at anearby school.

"This is, I feel, a very viable and environmentally sensitive plan," said board chairwoman Helen Ruther of the plan forShipley Meadows.

All but four acres of the 20.8-acre property will remain open space, some of which developer Wayne Newsome plans to donate to the county and an area church.

The town houses will be built on property adjacent to Route 32 and between the communities of Howard Hills in Savage and Huntington East in Kings Contrivance village. Construction is to begin this summer and be completed early next year.

An earlier plan for the property, submitted in 1988, would have spread detached single-family homes throughout the tract. County planners approved that plan but suggested clustering houses into a small area, as the current town house plan does.

"I'm pleased, and I think that the plan that we've put together is environmentally sensitive and addressesthe concerns of the community," said Newsome, a lifelong county resident who owns Hearth and Home, a wholesale fireplace distributor in Annapolis Junction.

Despite their objections, opponents of the development praised Newsome for his willingness to work with them on issues such as landscaping to shield their view of the property.

Philomena DeVito, who lives on a three-quarter acre lot that backs up to the wooded property and spoke against the development, said she was not surprised with the decision.

"I feel it was cut and dried beforewe walked in the door. I feel there's nothing the average citizen can do when the developer comes in with all the regulations followed," she said.

The lone dissenter in the 3-1 decision, Dale Schumacher,said the plan called for "fairly intense development" next to the quiet neighborhood and expressed concern about overcrowding at nearby Bollman Bridge Elementary.

He noted that the adequate facilities ordinance passed by the County Council Monday night would have closed that area off to development effective April 3.

Board member Kay B.Partridge agreed overcrowding was an important issue, but said the ordinance comes too late to affect Newsome's plans.

The county school board is scheduled to decide March 12 whether to assign two additional portable classrooms to Bollman Bridge and transfer 43 of its students to Atholton Elementary.

In other planning cases, the board:

* Decided to table for two weeks a proposal that would allow a retail nursery business on 6.2 acres on the west side of Cedar Lane between Braeburn and Freetown roads.

Neighbors in the Braeburn community opposed the plan, citing fears that chemical fertilizers and pesticides might contaminate their well water and increased planting mightincrease storm water runoff onto their properties.

The owner of the planned nursery, Charles J. Crouse, said he does not use chemicalsin his current gardens and has no intention of using them in his nursery business.

The board decided to put off a decision until the county Health Department can provide more information on the area's well water.

* Approved a site plan for a new county library next to Owen Brown Middle School.

The East Columbia branch library is expected to open around the beginning of 1994 and cost $8.1 million.

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