Howard County developer Michael Pfau has withdrawn his controversial plans to build four office buildings off Fels Lane in historic Ellicott City.
The buildings, designed to look like an old farmstead, had received mixed reviews at a Historic District Commission hearing several weeks ago. Although the commission's staff had recommended approval of the plans, at least 10 Ellicott City residents attended the hearing to oppose them, saying they would destroy the character of the district.
Among those who opposed the plans was Charles E. Fisher, a historic preservationist for the National Park Service in Washington.
The commission was scheduled to vote on the plans at a work session April 25. Had it voted against the proposal, Pfau would have had to wait another year before submitting new plans, unless they were substantially different.
Because Pfau withdrew his plans, he can revise them and resubmit them to the Historic District Commission any time.
The site is zoned for office buildings, and the Historic District Commission does not have the power to overturn that zoning. But it can approve or dismiss plans based on aesthetic considerations, such as architecture or landscaping.
Pfau has met with opposition before in his attempts to develop the site, about 7 acres across from the Roger Carter Center in Ellicott City. About a year and a half ago, he went before the Historic District Commission with plans to build 27 townhouses on the site.
Neighbors protested those plans, too, and the commission voted against the proposal in November 1998.
Pfau contended that the commission did not issue a written denial in time and therefore it had approved his plans by omission. The case went to the Howard County Circuit Court, where Judge James B. Dudley ruled in favor of the Historic District Commission.
Pfau could not be reached for comment yesterday.