Developers decline to appeal veto of Gambrills proposal


Developers who want to build 722 homes off Route 3 in Gambrills have decided not to contest the county Board of Appeals' rejection of their project.

The deadline for filing the appeal in Circuit Court in Annapolis was Thursday. No paperwork for the project, called Crofton Farms, was delivered to the courthouse.

Anthony Christhilf, the attorney representing the three-way partnership that owns the 221 acres near Waugh Chapel Road, would only confirm that no appeal was filed.

He would not give a reason or speculate on the future of the development. He referred all questions to Ernest J. Litty, president of Leimbach Development Inc., which owns most of the land. Litty could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The decision by the developers not to appeal does not mean the project is dead. They could file new plans and try for another special exception, or they could build homes under existing zoning.

The developers wanted to build a planned-unit development, or a PUD, which allows homes to be built in denser clusters than ordinary zoning allows.

The developers said a PUD would allow them to construct a unified project, with the builders working together on roads and services, rather then building piecemeal.

In return, the property owners would have deeded 16 acres to the county for a school and 80 acres for open space and recreation.

In March 1991, a county administrative hearing officer approved the PUD, but residents in nearby Gambrills appealed. The county Board of Appeals ruled in their favor last month.

The board said that the developers could not determine whether they could meet standards for roads, school and sewer service. The board disagreed with county planners and zoning officials, who supported the planned community.

One of the Gambrills residents who filed the appeal, Paul McHugh, said he is not happy with the outcome. He and others had argued that the developers should adhere to existing zoning requirements, saying a PUD would nullify the low-density zoning.

While pleased that he won't have fight the project in court, McHugh said he would have preferred a compromise before the appeals hearings.

Under that compromise, the developers would have reduced the number of homes to 622 by building fewer houses on the northern boundary of the land, near existing homes whose owners want to maintain a rural appearance.

"The neighbors would have liked to see the compromise," McHugh said. "We didn't like the large density."

The developers said throughout the hearings that they can build 700 homes with existing zoning. Residents maintain that current zoning allows only 550 homes to be built.

Last year, Halle Cos., which own a part of the 221 acres, filed a separate application with the county planning office to build 63 homes on 28 acres, called Canter Farms.

That land is near the northern edge, the area that McHugh and others thought they had saved from dense development.

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