Frederick County opens door to another 970 new homes -- Gazette.Net


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The Frederick County Board of Commissioners made a decision Thursday to enter into its seventh agreement with developers to build more homes in the county, this time off Ballenger Creek Pike in Frederick.

RBG Family LLC, the developers of the proposed Ballenger Run Planned Unit Development, want to build on 197.24 acres of property on the east side of Ballenger Creek Pike, across from Tuscarora High School in Frederick.

The proposed Ballenger Run development is currently zoned for people 55 and older, but the developers want to change that and build homes for people of all ages.

The property is zoned to build 970 age-restricted housing units, which would include 340 single-family homes, 150 townhouses, and 480 condominiums or apartments. The developers also want to build a 200-unit assisted-living facility on the site.

In a letter to the commissioners, Frederick land-use attorney Bruce Dean said his clients want to open up the development to people of all ages based on a recent housing market study and a recovering economy.

The county’s school construction fee — which allows developers to pay to build houses in areas with schools that exceed their capacity — is also making it easier for builders of large-scale developments to move forward.

Currently, Tuscarora High School has an enrollment of 1,493 students, with a capacity of 1,606 students, according to the school’s website.

Its feeder schools include Tuscarora Elementary, with an enrollment of 763 students and a capacity of 662; Ballenger Creek Elementary, with 653 and a 663 capacity; and Ballenger Creek Middle with 707 students and a 870 capacity.

The commissioners adopted the fee to spur home construction and generate money to help build schools. Previously, building was restricted if schools exceeded capacity.

The Ballenger Run developers are not the first to ask commissioners to remove the age-restricted housing requirement.

The developers of the Landsdale Planned Unit Development in Monrovia originally planned to build homes for people 55 and older but have since received approval to build 1,100 homes for people of all ages in south county.

The commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to proceed with a draft agreement with the developers of Ballenger Run, the final details of which will be hammered out over the next few months.

Commissioner David P. Gray (R) was the lone vote against moving forward with the agreement.

Gray does not support such binding pacts — known as “Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreements” — because they remain intact for 25 years, preventing future county governments from overturning them.

This is the seventh such agreement commissioners have entered into with developers. Combined, the agreements could mean 8,890 new homes could be built in the county.

Two agreements with developers have already been approved, including one for Landsdale, and with JTPL Investments LLC and Jefferson Park Development LLC for the building of the Jefferson Tech Park in the Ballenger Creek area.

The commissioners are also in the preliminary stages of agreements with four other developments, including:

• The proposed Monrovia Town Center in south county.

• Eaglehead/Linganore Planned Unit Development in the Lake Linganore/New Market area.

• The Urbana Town Center on the south side of Md. 355, adjacent to the Urbana Community Park.

• Westview South, east of New Design Road and west of Md. 85 in Frederick.

“This is the first step in the process [for Ballenger Run],” said Eric Soter, director of the county Division of Community Development.

Soter said his department will now review the draft agreement and determine if the age-restricted requirement should be removed.

The Frederick County Planning Commission will also have an opportunity to review the agreement and hold a public hearing to allow residents to respond.

The commissioners will also hold a public hearing before giving a final stamp of approval.

sgreenfield@gazette.net.