5% low-cost units urged for condo plan COUNTYWIDE


The chairman of the County Council has suggested that a proposed 730-unit condominium development in southern Ellicott City set aside 5 percent of its units for lower-income buyers.

Councilman Paul Farragut, D-4, floated the idea during Wednesday night's Zoning Board hearing on a petition by K&M; Development Corp. to change 50 acres of office- and research-zoned land to apartment zoning between future Route 100 and the Oakland Ridge Industrial Park.

"I can live with it," responded developer Patrick McCuan. He asked that the board allow him time to develop a plan to provide the $60,000-to-$70,000 units. Other units are expected to sell for about $100,000.

Only one witness, Cathy Hartman, president of Columbia Hills-Meadowbrook Farms Community Association, raised a minor point in opposition to the rezoning, which council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, will decide.

Because Mr. McCuan chose to couple the rezoning petition with a site plan, the board may set conditions on the project's development.

A rezoning allowing only half as many condominium units on the K&M; property, and additional apartment zoning on a neighboring property to the north, also is included in the Department of Planning and Zoning's comprehensive rezoning petition for eastern Howard County.

But if the Zoning Board were to adopt the change as part of the comprehensive rezoning, and reject Mr. McCuan's site-plan petition, it could not set any requirements such as creating affordable units.

The county Planning Board recommended against the site-plan petition in August, arguing that it did not meet the legal requirements of a mistake in zoning or a change in the character of the neighborhood.

During the hearing, Mr. McCuan expressed frustration over delays in completing Route 100. He has already paid for a one-mile, $1.5 million segment that adjoins the site.

The state is still wrestling with federal regulators over wetlands permits for the remaining segment that would link the site to U.S. 29.

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