For those not familiar with the term, in Annapolis a bill specifically aimed at one particular person is sometimes called a red-headed Eskimo bill, because the details in the legislation eliminate all but one person from its application.
Earlier this year, with very little publicity, section 131 of the Howard County zoning regulations, dealing with conditional uses in B-1 and B-2 (commercial) zones, was amended to allow age-restricted adult housing outside the Planned Service Area (i.e., outside the Eastern area served by water and sewer lines) if that development adjoins, or is within 200 yards of, a community shopping center with a food store greater than 15,000 square feet.
Now, you might be scratching your head wondering (1) what a 15,000 square foot food store has to do with age-restricted adult housing, and (2) where in Western Howard County is there such a property. I still haven’t figured out the answer to question (1) myself, but surprise, surprise, surprise, it turns out that there’s a 5.85 acre site just east of the Lisbon Shopping Center. And that shopping center just happens to contain a 15,000+ square foot Food Lion, which I believe is the only food store of such size in Western Howard County. And, in a further amazing coincidence, that property just happens to be owned by Democrat developer Don Reuwer and real estate attorney Dick Talkin.
Even though there’s no water or sewer lines in the area, the developers believe that this would be an appropriate site for five four-plex age-restricted housing units. For those of you who are not good at math, that works out to 20 housing units on a site that normally would be allowed less than 2 homes. Adding to area residents’ concern is that the same partnership owns a separate 7 acre tract just north of the shopping center.
The Lisbon-Woodbine area already has problems with well water quality, the legacy of a leaky underground gasoline tank from a number of years back. A nearby restaurant must have water delivered rather than cook with or serve water from its own well. A similar Reuwer development of age-restricted townhomes at Cattail Creek has been a disaster, with septic tanks that the developer admits must be pumped out three times daily. There are, of course, no fire hydrants in the area. The Lisbon Volunteer Fire Dept. is also concerned about the anticipated extra burden from added emergency medical calls.
I live about 4 miles away from the site and will not be affected significantly by this development, so I don’t really have any dog in this fight. But several of our friends live very close, and even next, to the site. The developers held a second pre-submission community meeting last night (Tues., 12/12/06) in Lisbon. We thank County Councilman Greg Fox for attending that meeting. Now we’re not a bunch of rabid NIMBY villagers with torches and pitchforks, but we are concerned about the water quality in the area and interested in how the developers plan to address those concerns.