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Last 5 buildings approved for Columbia Crossing Retailers would occupy 4 acres of floor space


The Howard County Planning Board unanimously approved last night a plan for five retail buildings on a 16.6-acre site -- the last piece of the huge Columbia Crossing shopping center.

In other actions, the board approved the rezoning of 8.8 acres in Columbia's River Hill village and construction of a three-story, two-unit apartment building behind Ellicott Theatre Art Movies Inc. on Main Street.

In the first case, the board voted 5-0 to approve construction of the five buildings with nearly 4 acres of floor space at Columbia Crossing north of Route 175 and west of Snowden River Parkway.

Also, 812 parking spaces, including 32 for handicapped patrons, would be built, said Joseph H. Necker Jr., vice president and director of engineering for Howard Research and Development Corp., a Rouse Co. subsidiary that is developing the site.

The buildings, one of which will be occupied by CompUSA, represents the final portion of Columbia Crossing, Necker said.

"This is the last major portion of retail that will be brought forward," he said. "This is coming to the end of the development of Columbia Crossing."

The board also unanimously approved rezoning 8.8 acres on the north side of Linden Linthicum Lane in Columbia's River Hill village from single-family low density to single-family medium density.

Necker testified that the change would decrease the number of single-family lots proposed for the parcel, from 41 to 40.

"This is just a relabeling of the land use," he said, adding that many of the lots average 8,000 square feet. "This makes a compatibility between lot sizes and land-use designations."

But Richard Raver, a member of the board of directors for the Linthicum Chapel cemetery, voiced concern that the easement between the homes and the cemetery is too small.

"People go to the cemetery because it is a solitary place to see their loved ones," Raver said. "If the buffer zone is nothing more than the back yards of some of these homes, then the cemetery loses any isolation that it had."

Necker promised to meet with Raver and other board members to work out a sufficient easement between the two sides.

"I'm sure that if we meet, we can come to some accommodations," he said.

Also, the board voted 3-1 to recommend approval for a variance for a three-story, two-apartment building on a 588-square-foot site behind Ellicott Theatre Art Movies Inc. on Main Street.

Because the property is in the Historic Commercial Zoning District, zoning codes limit new residential structures to lots of at least 2,000 square feet.

Paul and Tracy Pelletier, who own the site, cited the narrow size of the lot as justification for the variance.

But board member Robert Geiger agreed with officials from the movie theater that the proposed building would impair their ability to make repairs to their facility because the proposed building would be only 6 inches from the theater's back wall.

Board members Theodore Mariani, Haskell Arnold, and Gary Kaufman voted to recommend the variance, while Joan Lancos abstained. The recommendation will be considered by the Board of Appeals.

Pub Date: 6/19/97

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