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Rouse plans 200 more homes in Howard next to proposed Columbia-style village North Laurel residents raise traffic concerns


A week after submitting a more detailed plan for a nearly 1,200-home Columbia-style village in the southeastern corner of Howard County, a senior Rouse Co. official said yesterday that the firm intends to build about 200 homes on adjacent property, increasing traffic concerns of nearby residents.

Alton J. Scavo, Rouse's senior vice president, said it will take several weeks to file a preliminary proposal to build the homes on two parcels on the north side of Gorman Road in North Laurel, in conjunction with construction of a 1,145-unit mixed-use community on the 517-acre Key Property.

"We were very clear and forthright about developing the 200 acres," Scavo said, noting that he briefed the Zoning Board about the firm's intentions this year. "Once we're down there bringing water and sewer [to the Key Property] and doing all of the marketing that goes along with it, it makes sense to do it then."

In a related matter, a Howard County Circuit Court hearing scheduled today on a motion by a citizens' group opposed to the Key Property development has been postponed until Jan. 5.

"There was nothing earthshaking that it couldn't wait a few weeks," said Greg Fries, who chairs the Southern Howard Land Use Committee. "I don't think it has any real negative effect on our cause."

The committee, which represents about a dozen smaller homeowner groups, is seeking to overturn a June 2 decision by the Zoning Board, which approved a zoning change the Rouse Co. needed to proceed with development.

Rouse wants to build 395 single-family houses, 500 townhouses and 250 apartments on the property, which is bisected by Interstate 95 and bounded by Gorman Road to the north and Route 216 to the south.

The company has approval to build an additional 55 single-family houses, but Scavo said the company is comfortable with the reduced number.

"We put on the comprehensive sketch plan what we thought was right," he said. "It just happens that there are fewer units there."

The Key proposal also calls for the development of more than 1.2 million square feet of employment space. Retail and service space is estimated at about 100,000 square feet; about 183 acres would be devoted to open space.

The Subdivision Review Committee of the Department of Planning and Zoning is expected to examine the plan Jan. 14.

A traffic study estimates that the community would generate 24,209 vehicles a day and that eight other projects in the vicinity totaling 210 homes would add 3,019 more.

But the study does not include the adjacent parcels on which Rouse would build about 200 homes -- an omission that concerns Fries.

"That's a significant amount of units and traffic that is not reflected in the study," he said. "We feel that it should've been included in the study."

Scavo argued that the smaller proposal will require its own traffic study, and that a proposed loop road in the Key plan would help the local roads accommodate the additional traffic.

"When the loop road is connected and access to Route 216 is joined, it has the capacity for more than our development," he said.

Scavo also said the county has inquired about acquiring a quarry on the land, which some area civic organizations say could be a foundation for a park.

"Several of the groups brought up the need for a regional park, and there was some interest in the quarry," said Scavo.

He said discussions were preliminary, and he is willing to talk to county officials about such an acquisition.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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