Hickory Ridge still battles apartment for the elderly


Residents of Columbia's Hickory Ridge village continue their fight against construction of an 89-unit apartment project for the elderly in that neighborhood -- the latest salvos coming at a session of the Howard County Board of Appeals last week.

Developer Earl Armiger, of Orchard Development Corp., is seeking a special exception to build a three-story apartment complex on 18 acres between Owen Brown and Freetown Roads, across from the Hickory Ridge Shopping Center.

Thursday's Board of Appeals hearing was a continuation from last month so that about 50 residents could testify in opposition to the development. The hearing will continue with more testimony March 28.

The residents who testified last week contended that the 18-acre project would depress property values and "dominate" their neighborhood.

"I'm not opposed to all housing for the elderly, but I think it should be in a more adequate location," said Howard Mindek, a Hickory Ridge village resident since 1989.

Residents also complained that their neighborhood has more than its share of housing for the elderly. Harmony Hall Retirement Community is there, and Sunrise Assisted Living is building a facility for the elderly in the neighborhood.

The county Planning Board voted 3-2 on Jan. 3 to recommend approval of the Orchard development. The plans still must be approved by the Board of Appeals.

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