Homebuilders as a rule are not known for their largess when it comes to preserving or planting trees in the communities they erect. That tendency has been a blight on the suburbs and often results, comically, in the naming of subdivisions after forests and woodlands that have been bulldozed bare.
That's why a recent award to a Howard developer caught our eye. As winners of the 1995 Project of the Year, Chateau Builders of Columbia has illustrated that giving quarter to the environment makes solid business sense, too. Sponsored by the Land Development Council of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, the award was made because of extensive tree and foliage plantings at Chateau's townhouse and condominium development known as the Woodlands. The 800-unit project off of Route 108 in Columbia has received more than $1 million worth of plantings, including red maple, white ash, pin oak, London plane, evergreen and white pine.
What distinguishes Chateau's accomplishment even more is that was done in a community that is considered moderately priced in the Howard County market, in the $140,000 to $160,000 range. Such an investment in landscaping would seem more common where homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
But as Richard Azrael, one of the principles at Chateau, admits, it is more than altruism that led the company on this course. The additional plantings, he says, greatly improve the aesthetics of the community, enhance the value of the properties and improve his income. We wish such strategies would become the norm, not the prize-winning exception.
KANGAROO COURT: Now that summer has arrived, it's time to find that old jump rope you tossed in the closet long ago. Jump-roping is apparently hot in Howard County, thanks in part to the Kangaroo Kids Precision Jump Rope Team, a group of 120 youngsters from kindergarten through high school. An eight-member contingent is slated to travel to Iowa next month for the Junior Olympics, which only recently added jump-roping. Lest anyone mistake this for everyday rope-skipping, think again. The K-Kids are masters of the craft, executing elaborate, synchronized drills and dances in time with music. Good exercise. Great fun.