Sunday, February 21, 2010

Doughoregan Detractors Dealt Defeat

Last Thursday the Howard County Planning Board unanimously approved the Carroll family plans to develop 325 single family homes on 200 acres of the 892 acre historic Doughoregan Manor estate. A key element of those plans is the extension of the county public water and sewer area to service the new homes According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun, the Planning Board “found that moving the utilities is consistent with the county's General Plan. And recommending the zoning change seemed almost automatic if the utilities are extended, board members said.”

Some of the Carroll’s neighbors are not at all happy about this decision.

"They completely ignored all our advice about a million-gallon [wastewater] treatment plant. This is a major imposition on our environment," said Charles Staples, who lives near the estate's eastern boundary.

Opponents also have complained that the Carroll development project would increase traffic in the area and would require millions of dollars in public services while the public remains barred from the county's only National Historic Landmark.”

This has the potential to be a hot button issue in the District 1 council race. Current council chair Courtney Watson is facing an expected challenge from Bob Flanagan and, knowing Howard County, development projects have a way of stirring the electorate. The final decision on both the extension of public water and sewer and the requisite zoning change will be made by the county council, presumably before the election.

This could prove to be a tricky issue. If they support the development they risk having the anti development forces mobilize against them. If they oppose the development they could face the outcry of the environmentalists. While this may not be Smart Growth, as Planning Board member Paul Yelder pointed out, it is still preferable to what the Carroll family could do with the property under existing zoning.

“The Carrolls have the right under current zoning to build about 400 homes on large lots using wells and septic systems throughout their property. Instead, they want the county to allow public utilities so they can push the new homes together on a rezoned section of about 200 acres in the northeast corner of the estate.”

Considering how long the Planning Board dithered on the Columbia Town Center redevelopment plans, I am amazed at the speed in which they reached this decision.


Tom said...

A Republican is going to take the anti-development positions. Yes, all politics is local.

Anonymous said...

Doughoregan disses existing residents - big shock. Council unanimously approves GGP bailout - big shock. Federal lawsuit dismissed (for Cattail, or referendum, no matter) - big shock.

People grouse and complain that residents are anti-developer, and look where our tax (paycheck)dollars are going!! Infrastructure to support developers who fund re-election campaigns.


nersari said...

WB.... you forgot to mention the $25 Million (Ag preservation easement) that the Carrolls will get in addition to the water/sewer extension and rezoning that will permit 325 houses. Despite this windfall, I don't suppose that you'd be surprised to learn that the public still won't have access to this "historic treasure".

I thoroughly understand the upside for the Carroll's, Joe Rutter, Don Reuwer, Dick Talkin, Sang Oh and the politicians they contribute to. My only question is..... what do the local neighbors and County taxpayers get?

The Council vote on the GPA will be a predictable 4 - 1 (with Watson dissenting).

Anonymous said...

People, don't the Carrolls already have the right to build even more houses there now, the only difference being that the sewer installation protects the environment and fewer houses will now be built?

Anonymous said...

If the zoning is changed as the Carrolls have requested, then as long as what they build conforms with the new zoning designation they can build what they want. Under the new zoning they could build townhouses. And in this economy what do you think will sell better, townhouses or McMansions? Once the zoning changes, who knows what they will do...

The first step toward the zoning change is the CB9-2010 which will move the PSA to include this 221 acre parcel so they are eligible for water and sewer. Then they will ask for the zoning change.

There is no way to ensure that they would just build the 325 homes as they are "promising." They are going to build what will sell and if that's townhouses then that is what they will build.