Panel supports plans for small golf course on Ellicott City site


Small training golf courses should be permitted on property zoned for office and research use, the county Planning Board concluded yesterday.

In a 3-1 vote, the board supported a petition by Howard Health Park Associates Limited Partnership, which owns 13.3 acres of office/research land between the end of Town and Country Boulevard and U.S. 29.

The matter now goes before the county Zoning Board, which will make the final decision. No hearing date has been set.

The Planning Board's vote endorses the recommendations of the Department of Planning and Zoning. The department's staff report agreed with Health Park Associates that owners of office/research property should be allowed temporary uses to make money on the land until the depressed office market improves.

Two other property developers with interest in office/research land between U.S. 29 and 40 and Interstate 70 have also asked that their zoning be changed. One, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is waiting for a Zoning Board decision on 54 acres that could allow two warehouse-sized stores. The other seeks rezoning for up to 1,000 apartments. It was put on hold after an adequate-facilities law tied development to school overcrowding.

The planning staff report also recommended adding specific language that would require a golf training center to have predominantly natural turf and include features such as sand and water hazards and trees. Planners also recommended that the Zoning Board clarify the difference between miniature golf courses and golf training centers.

Newly appointed board member Joan Lancos voted against the change, arguing that the petitioner should apply for a special exception specifically for its Ellicott City site. That would give the board more control over the project, she said.

In another case, the board approved a site development plan for 35 town houses in the Brightfield subdivision in lower Ellicott City.

Ryan Homes will build the homes on Brightwind Court, the first court of the final section in the 3-year-old development.

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