It will be at least two years before construction begins, but the next phase of Maple Lawn, Maryland, a luxury planned community near Fulton, is set.
Meeting in a rare Monday session and acting with a bare quorum of three, the Planning Board unanimously approved an amended sketch plan that will greatly expand the development.
Approval of the plan, submitted by developer Greenebaum & Rose Associates Inc., had been anticipated.
The plan will alter Maple Lawn by:
Increasing the number of acres restricted to residential development from 251 to 266.
Permitting 1,340 housing units, an increase of 224 units.
Expanding permitted business uses from 77 acres to 122 acres, and increasing the square footage by 684,552 square feet to 1.86 million square feet.
Increasing land reserved for open space from 179 acres to 217 acres.
The Planning Board held a public hearing last month on the application but postponed action until Monday. Although the plan was approved on a 3-0 vote, it will not become official until the board files its formal decision and order, which should occur in about 30 days.
Some homeowners, most of whom live outside the development, had expressed concerns during the hearing about the increases in traffic and residents the expansion would produce. There was the suggestion that the plan would result in an increase in density, or the number of housing units per acre.
Board member David Grabowski on Monday sought to dispel those fears.
"By adding more property, we increased the number of units, but we didn't increase the density," he said.
Grading of the land for commercial development probably will begin in the spring, Charlie O'Donovan, vice president of development for Greenebaum & Rose and project manager for Maple Lawn, said after the meeting. Construction of the buildings will not begin for about two years, he said.
The new residential section, O'Donovan said, will not be developed for several years.
Maple Lawn is designed after the so-called "old town," or traditional, concept of the early 20th century. Homes are close together, and the development encourages pedestrian use of large open space, parks and playing fields. Walking and bicycle paths, a community center, a swimming pool and tennis courts are designed to bring residents together. Clusters of office and retail development are away from the homes but within walking distance.
Costs of many of the homes will begin in the seven figures.
The five-member Planning Board has been short-handed since the resignation in July of H. Gregory Tornatore.
Members of the board are appointed by the Howard county executive but are subject to confirmation by the County Council.
Former County Executive James N. Robey named Cabell Greenwood to the post, but the council declined to act on the nomination, believing the choice should be left to the next administration.
Aaron Greenfield, chief of staff for new County Executive Ken Ulman, said recently that a candidate might be nominated in a month or two.