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Board rejects K&M; plan to build condos instead of office space


The county Planning Board yesterday unanimously rejected a rezoning petition that would have allowed about 730 condominiums along future Route 100 near Columbia.

The petition seeks to change 50 acres of planned office/research zoning to apartment zoning.

K&M; Development Corp. argued yesterday that the Zoning Board, in its 1985 comprehensive rezoning, failed to anticipate a lack of land for affordable housing and an excess of office/research land in Howard county. The developer also argues that the board failed to anticipate Route 100 being restored to the county General Plan, its 20-year blueprint for growth.

The legal requirement for all individual, or piecemeal, rezoning is that the current zoning is a mistake or that the character of the neighborhood has changed since the last comprehensive rezoning.

Board member William Manning suggested that K&M; Development Corp. submit the requested change as part of the county's comprehensive rezoning of the eastern county, a process that is expected to begin in October.

"I don't see that there was a mistake and I don't see that there was a change to the extent that it warrants a piecemeal rezoning," Mr. Manning said.

The board's decision amounts to a recommendation to the Zoning Board, which is made up of County Council members who will make a final ruling on the condominium proposal. No hearing date has been set.

The petition comes with a site plan showing 30 low-rise condominium apartment buildings and a community center off of Executive Park Drive and Columbia 100 Parkway.

Richard B. Talkin, the developer's attorney, argued that while the County Council called for increases in affordable housing in the General Plan, there is very little land zoned for it. Mr. Talkin said dTC the condominiums would sell for less than $100,000.

While 30 percent of the county's housing was multi-family in 1990, existing zoning will eventually push that percentage down to 11, probably lower, Mr. Talkin said.

"This is probably the last available site of its kind in the county," Mr. Talkin said.

The property, located between the Oakland Ridge Industrial Center and Route 100, is ideally suited for high-density residential development, Mr. Talkin argued, because it already has a day-care center, restaurants, shops and a movie theater nearby.

If, however, the Zoning Board approves the zoning change, the department recommends rezoning only three parcels totaling 23 acres in order to provide a buffer of office/research development between the condominiums and Route 100.

Planning board members couldn't decide whether to give the Zoning Board an option to rezone only 23 acres of the property.

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