Equal footing sought for age-limited projects


Mary Jane Daniels and her husband wanted to relocate, so they put their villa on the market.

The first weekend, they had three prospective buyers, but none submitted a contract. Weeks went by, then months.

The problem was not the condition of their home, its location or the asking price. The problem was one over which the Elkridge couple had no control: public perception. They lived in Rockburn Woods, a 21-villa development completed in 1994.

But that is when the county officially referred to Rockburn - and other developments like it - as "housing for elderly" and restricted residency to people at least 60 years old.

Today, the politically correct phrase is "age-restricted" housing, and the starting point is five years younger.

The result is that Rockburn is at a marketing disadvantage, Daniels and others told the Planning Board on Thursday night.

"It took many, many months" to sell their home, she said. "There's high competitiveness."

At the urging of County Councilman Christopher J. Merdon, the Planning Board unanimously approved a zoning amendment that will put age-restricted projects built before 2001 on equal footing with their more contemporary counterparts. The measure next goes to the Zoning Board for consideration.

The Department of Planning and Zoning said that seven developments, with a combined total of 475 units, would be covered by the change.

"I don't see a downside," said Planning Board member H. Gregory Tornatore. "It equals the playing field."

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