Developers for the Two Rivers community hope to break ground this summer on an 18-hole golf course, the first piece of an age-restricted project of 2,000 homes south of Odenton, after recently gaining preliminary planning approval from Anne Arundel County.
John C. Stamato, president of Annapolis-based Ribera Development, said yesterday the next step is to submit to the county final engineering plans for the gated community on 1,471 acres between the Patuxent and Little Patuxent rivers.
Stamato said the county's sketch approval in January is a significant step toward seeing the project, more than seven years in the making, come to fruition. The developers are required to submit a more detailed final development plan of the project along Conway Road by January.
"If everything goes well, we would like to break ground on the community in a year," Stamato said, referring to the homes, with the first scheduled to be sold by 2009.
County planners had been reluctant to approve the project because of concerns that it would overwhelm a nearby sewage treatment plant, but in a Jan. 24 letter granting the sketch approval, Planning Director Lois D. Villemaire told the Two Rivers representatives that there was adequate water and sewer capacity.
Surrounding residents have largely endorsed the residential development, which would be restricted to those age 55 and older. It would include walking trails and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
The site would include the golf course and two clubhouses at the southern end of the property, Stamato said. The county has gained assurances that access to the clubhouses and golf course would be restricted to Two Rivers residents and their guests, Villemaire wrote.
Stamato said that grading work will begin for the course first because the process involves the reclaiming of old mining operations. He estimated the clubhouses would be up in 2009.
The project would be completed by 2019 at the earliest, Stamato said. Four builders will offer single-family and villa-style homes: Classic Community Corp., Ryan Homes, NVHomes and Koch Homes. The housing would be separate from the golf course, he said.
"Now it's the excitement of figuring out how the clubhouse is going to look, to make the final decisions on the shape of the course," Stamato said.
Nearby residents said the project would put the property to better use than the former mining operation, although some expressed trepidation about it, given that seven years have passed since it was proposed. Now at least 15 retail and residential projects are going up nearby on already congested Route 3.
"John Stamato kept us informed and listened to the people's concerns," said Torrey C. Jacobsen Jr., president of the Greater Crofton Council, which endorsed Two Rivers. "But the tide is turning, and I don't know if the community would be so willing now. The big issue is traffic, traffic, traffic - and Route 3 has not been fixed."
Jacobsen added, "It's a very nice project, [but] it will change the terrain, whether good or bad. Two Rivers is a double-edged sword."
Still, they said, a senior housing development would be better than doing nothing to the site. They also hope the presence of new housing will keep up pressure to thwart efforts by Halle Cos. to build a rubble landfill off Patuxent Road.
"The question was: Do you want runoff from senior development or the runoff from a mining operation?" said David A. Tibbetts, vice president and environmental chair of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association. "It's a much more attractive use of the land, with less impact. It sure beats the alternative."
Stamato said he will provide a project update Monday at a meeting with residents of the Forks of the Patuxent community.
Although the age-restricted community will have no direct impact on the school system, Stamato said, the Two Rivers developers stand behind a $7 million pledge to the county school system.
The developers had anticipated directing that money toward the building of the $24.6 million Gambrills Area Elementary. However, all but about $3 million in state funding has been secured, and the school is scheduled to open as early as August 2008.
Stamato said he will consult with County Councilmen Jamie Benoit and Edward R. Reilly to determine how that money could be directed toward future school needs.
The developers will also be required to relocate a portion of the WB&A; Trail and grant the county easements to complete the walking trail, Villemaire wrote.
Sun reporter Jamie Stiehm contributed to this article.