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Proposed community for seniors raises questions


Severn and Odenton residents have raised questions about a proposal to turn 200 acres of Fort Meade land into a community for senior citizens as the county and the Army prepare to ask for a zoning change this week to accommodate the plan.

Residents say they fear the project will become another low-income housing community.

"I'm afraid that's exactly what's going to happen again," said Ray Ringgold, 71, of Delmont in Severn.

He pointed to subsidized and public housing developments in Severn that became pockets of poverty and crime, where residents have little access to public transportation or shopping.

The Army wants to give the land east of Route 175 and roughly bisected by Reece Road to a developer, who has not been selected, in return for the developer building military housing on the base.

A preliminary plan for the senior housing calls for nearly 1,000 apartments, assisted-living units, "quadriplex" homes, patio homes and town houses for residents 55 and older.

The Anne Arundel County Office of Human Services is helping to guide the project through the zoning process and helping to select a developer.

While there is no organized opposition, residents have concerns.

"Is it a safe area? Is there a shopping area? Would they provide services to attract the elderly?" fretted Mike Shylanski, president of the Greater Severn Improvement Association. "Right now, it's very loose."

Patricia Barland, who coordinates urban revitalization efforts in the Office of Human Services, said the guarantees that residents want would come as the county reviews a developer's plans for the parcel.

"The land will not transfer to a private developer until the developer has been through the permit process," Barland said.

A hearing on the zoning change to create an "adult service community," is scheduled Thursday before the county administrative hearing officer.

Private development of the parcel would allow for more community input than if the land remained under military control, said Glenn Akers, president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association, who also wants assurances the land would be developed and maintained as senior housing. "We would like to see that it stay that way and not turn into an apartment complex," he said. "As long as it progresses in the direction that they advertised, it may be an asset to the area."

For Shylanski, making sure the plan includes adequate services and public transportation for the residents is a main concern.

"You have the Odenton Tattoo parlor over there, or whatever, for their services and no bus transportation to speak of," he said. "We've got to see how we can provide decent services right in the community."

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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