'Carriage court' housing gets zoning nod for debut in county


The Harford County Council has agreed to amend the zoning code to allow a new form of multifamily housing to be built in the county.

In a 7-0 vote Tuesday, the council adopted legislation allowing for the construction of two- and three-story "carriage court" units.

The homes are a combination of townhouse and condominium apartment; in fact, they have been described as vertical apartments. Each unit would have an entrance from outside but would share side walls and a back wall. They would be sold individually.

"I'm not sure this is a good idea, but sometimes you have to take risks and find out," President Jeffrey D. Wilson said in voting for the legislation. He and other council members had expressed reservations about the construction and design proposals of the homes.

Each building would contain at least four residences. As in most apartments, the homes would not have backdoors or individual yards.

The exterior of the buildings and surrounding grounds would be owned jointly by members of a condominium association.

Some council members feared that the courtyard design, with some units fronting a grassy area rather than a road, would prevent access by emergency vehicles.

They also were concerned about the spread of fire, since the units are not separated by cinder-block walls.

The council amended the legislation to upgrade the partitions between units from one-hour to two-hour fire-resistant walls.

In a public hearing on the legislation last month, county planner ,, Arden Holdredge said the new housing would be permitted in the same zoning districts as condominium apartments and would be subject to similar regulations.

She said the individual units would be larger than most condominium apartments and would likely result in less density.

The council Tuesday also approved the emergency transfer of appropriations for several school construction projects.

The panel approved $25,075 for completion of the renovation of science rooms at Edgewood High School and $398,492 for the planning and engineering stages of the new Forest Lake Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in Forest Hill in September 1996.

"Our construction schedule is so tight that we have difficulty getting our schools open in time," said Roger C. Niles, an assistant superintendent for Harford County Schools in requesting the advance on planning money.

Last year, Fallston Middle opened two weeks late and Church Creek Elementary's planned opening was delayed a year because of construction problems.

Donald Morrison, schools spokesman, said that if engineering on the Forest Lake school is done this year, the county can bid out the project in January 1995 and still have about 18 months for construction.

In recent years, he said, "we've been trying to build schools in less than a year."

The council also approved a bill to transfer $635,000 from the emergency needs account to provide ventilation systems at Edgewood and Deerfield elementaries and at Edgewood Middle and High schools.

The revenues for that project will come from a Department of Defense grant designated for schools near chemical stockpiles, Mr. Niles said.

All the schools are near the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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