The developer who wants to build a Columbia-style village in southeastern Howard County said last night that he could bring a Fortune 500 company to the area if the Zoning Board approves his plan.
Stewart J. Greenebaum hailed his proposal as a "watershed development" for the county, but he told the board that the county would not be able to reap any rewards until he was permitted to build his mixed-use project on the Iager farm in Fulton.
"This is not a pipe dream. We can bring them here," said Greenebaum of attracting a high-tech company to a corporate headquarters-style structure. "But you've got to untie our hands."
Greenebaum's remarks drew chuckles from Greg Fries, chairman of the Southern Howard Land Use Committee, one of several organizations fighting the Iager project.
"He was obviously tooting his own horn," said Fries. "It's very unbelievable to me."
John Breitenberg, an attorney who represents opponents of the project, questioned Greenebaum's ability to persuade a major company to move to Fulton and asked whether he had letters of intent.
"I would never embarrass myself by asking someone for a letter of intent for a project that could be delayed for years," replied Greenebaum.
The Baltimore County developer wants to build a 1,168-home community on 507.9 acres on the Iager property, which is west of U.S. 29 and bounded by state Route 216 and Johns Hopkins Road.
The project, to be built over a decade, would mix residential neighborhoods with nearly 1.2 million square feet of employment space, more than 150,000 square feet of retail space and 178 acres of open space.
Using computer-generated graphics splashed onto a projection screen, Greenebaum outlined his vision of the community -- neighborhood parks abutting dozens of homes, a network of paths to encourage residents to walk to work or to the convenience store, and a "focal point" that would serve as the entertainment and recreational center of the community.
Most of the night, Greenebaum emphasized the benefits of his plan's employment district.
He estimated that with a maximum of 4,000 employees on the property, $225 million would be paid in annual salaries.
Greenebaum also predicted that the employment district would generate $3 million a year in county and state taxes.
But Breitenberg pointed out that Greenebaum would be competing with next-door neighbor Montpelier Research Park and two other mixed-use projects -- Cherrytree Park in Scaggsville and a Rouse Co. plan for North Laurel -- for high-tech companies.
Breitenberg asked the developer why companies would want to locate in Fulton.
"We didn't make this investment on a whim," Greenebaum said, referring to $7 million spent on purchases of neighboring properties and reports from traffic consultants. "We've talked to people who would come here in a heartbeat."
Despite Greenebaum's optimism, opponents argued that he failed to satisfy their concerns about the density of the project and traffic congestion it could cause.
"Three [mixed-use] developments at one time cannot be accommodated by the roadway structure," said Peter Oswald, vice president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association. "No stroke of Greenebaum magic is going to change that."
The next hearing on the proposal is scheduled at 7: 30 p.m. Monday.