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County, developer working on deal to provide transitional housing


Carroll officials are working with a developer on a deal that could provide housing at no cost to the county for about 15 families who are homeless or in dire need of support.

County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge confirmed yesterday that

the county is working with James Ryan Jr., owner of Rylea Homes Inc. of Westminster, on a deal in which Mr. Ryan would donate land off Kriders Church Road for the transitional housing project. No contract outlining terms has been drafted, she emphasized.

The arrangement hinges on the county receiving about $680,000 from the state to move seven houses the county purchased in connection with the airport expansion project, said Department of Citizen Services Director Jolene G. Sullivan. The county would rehabilitate them into transitional housing apartments.

On Monday, the commissioners voted to rezone three acres of Mr. Ryan's 5-acre parcel from residential to industrial use. The county Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the change.

The remaining two acres on the north side of Kriders Church road, west of Md. 97 and south of the airport already were zoned for industrial use. Mr. Ryan applied for the rezoning last November, before the county expressed an interest in the transitional housing project, public records show.

Under the tentative arrangement, the land would revert to Mr. Ryan if financing is not secured, Mrs. Sullivan said.

"If we can't get the money from the state, we can't do the project," she said.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development requires local jurisdictions to secure land for housing projects serving low-income residents before granting assistance through the Partnership Rental Housing Program.

Sue Gregson, the department's public information director, said Mrs. Sullivan told an official there Aug. 7 that the county "has control of the land."

The state is processing the county's loan request based on that information, she said, but it probably will take four to six months to evaluate the project.

Mrs. Sullivan said the department has requested a plan outlining how the project will be managed.

If approved by a department finance committee and the governor, the state would provide a "low- or no-interest loan," Mrs. Gregson said. Mrs. Sullivan said the county would not have to repay the money unless the project is changed from low-income housing.

Transitional housing provides lodging for up to two years for families who have exhausted their stays at homeless shelters or are in danger of being evicted, until they can become self-sufficient. Support services, such as transportation, day care, counseling and education programs, could be provided.

County homeless shelters have become overcrowded in the last year, exacerbating the need for transitional housing.

Several residents who live near the proposed site oppose the project.

The industrially-zoned parcel would cost about $150,000 to buy, county officials estimate. Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said the commissioners "probably aren't willing to buy it."

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