Four days after the Howard County Planning Board recommended approval for a mixed-use project in Fulton, the Zoning Board has agreed to schedule a public hearing on the development next month -- a faster-than-normal schedule that could allow the construction of more than 1,100 homes to begin in 2000.
Darrel E. Drown, chairman of the Zoning Board, said the board will schedule a hearing for G&R; Maple Lawn Inc. -- developers of the Iager Farm site -- July 27 or 28.
The board normally takes a hiatus in August that in an election year effectively runs until the end of the year.
"They said, 'We think we can get this done in a night or two,' " Drown said of the developers. "We're trying to accommodate them."
By agreeing to a July hearing, the board is helping the developers keep their projected 2000 construction date on the 507-acre site.
The board's bylaws prohibit the panel -- which doubles as the County Council -- from scheduling any zoning hearings from August until after the November general election.
Drown said he would have postponed the case until after the election if the developers had not assured him that it would take only one night to review the plan because it faces little opposition.
But some Fulton residents say enough unanswered questions remain about the project that the hearing might take longer.
"That's my perspective," said John Adolphsen Sr., a Fulton resident for more than 30 years. "For them to state that is way out of line.
"With all of the questions that still need to be looked at, I think it's premature of the Zoning Board to do this. We're resigned to [a mixed-use development] going in. We're just trying to ensure that what goes in is compatible to the rest of the area."
Added Peter J. Oswald, former president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association: "It's just too much too soon."
Implications in southeast
The decision could have serious implications for the southeastern corner of the county, where three mixed-use plans -- this one in Fulton, the Rouse Co. in North Laurel and Cherrytree Park in Scaggsville -- could produce more than 2,600 homes within a three-mile radius over a 10-year period.
"We're getting dumped on all at once," Oswald said. "The Zoning Board is making a big mistake scheduling this now."
But an attorney representing two area community associations said that discussions between the developers and the groups have made progress and that the July hearing date could work out.
"We are willing to support it being moved to July if the differences and concerns have been resolved," said Tom Dernoga, a Prince George's County land-use lawyer who is representing Greater Beaufort Park and Cherrytree Farms.
Greg Fries, chairman of the Southern Howard Land Use Committee, an umbrella group of a dozen homeowners associations, added: "We need to look at the project in depth, but what we have seen on the surface, we don't see anything we greatly object to."
Richard B. Talkin, an attorney for G&R; Maple Lawn, did not return several telephone messages.
Besides the 1,168 homes, the preliminary development plan for the Fulton site also calls for 1.1 million square feet of employment space and 177 acres of open space on the tract west of U.S. 29. The site is bounded by Johns Hopkins Road to the north and Route 216 to the south.
The community would be developed in two phases. The first would have 534 single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums and 176,000 square feet of employment space.
The second phase would not begin until interchanges at U.S. 29 and Johns Hopkins Road and at U.S. 29 and Route 216 are completed in 2004.
Construction would be concurrent with the development of the Rouse Co.'s proposed community on a 516-acre parcel bisected by Interstate 95 -- between Gorman Road and Route 216 -- in nearby North Laurel.
That project, which was approved Tuesday night by the Zoning Board, includes 1,200 homes and 1.5 million square feet of employment space over the same 10-year period.
In the middle is Cherrytree Park, which proposes to start building 171 homes and 212,102 square feet on 42 acres in Scaggsville in 2000.
Review of plan is June 24
The Zoning Board will review the plan June 24.
State Sen. Martin G. Madden, a Clarksville Republican whose district includes North Laurel, said the board should delay the Fulton proposal until the other two projects are completed in 2010.
"We should see how one works out before a third one comes on board," Madden said. "Prudence would dictate that we step back and don't put a third one on the list."
Pub Date: 6/05/98