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Committee Opposes Plans for Homes on North Patuxent

The Odenton Town Center Plan Oversight Committee voted against recommending plans for 51 new homes on North Patuxent Road and Becknel Avenue. County planners will have the final say.

The committee charged with reviewing development projects in the Odenton Town Center has cast a blow to plans for 51 homes at the corner of North Patuxent Road and Becknel Avenue.

The on Tuesday voted 4-2 to against the concept plan by Elm Street Development, instead recommending that the density of the project be reduced by at least a third.

With the vote, the committee essentially sided with neighbors and local historic preservationists, who said the plan was not in keeping with the character of the area, located just to the east of the Odenton MARC station.

Plans call for 48 townhomes and three single-family homes, with some live-work units included. Other single-family homes on North Patuxent, including the historic Padgett House, would remain in place.

The final say in approval of the project lies in the hands of the Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning, which has already crafted letters indicating support of the 51-home proposal.

An official from the development team said reducing the number of homes by that amount would not be economically feasible.

“We’re going to continue to work with the county,” said Stephen Horne, a vice president with Elm Street. “The density and concentration of the town center drives the land value, and in order for there to be enough housing to manage the population boom, we’ve got to have that kind of density.”

Developers have been seeking approval for new homes on North Patuxent for more than a year. Earlier proposals . The proposal on Tuesday called for the fewest homes of any previous plan and featured only single family homes along the streetfront, but committee members were still not swayed.

Specifically, members said they believed that the number of townhomes would counter guidelines in the Odenton Town Center Master Plan for development to follow the character of the town’s historic district. Many neighbors also opposed the plan.

“The project doesn’t fit with the neighborhood,” said Jim Matthews, whose house would be located in front of the townhomes. “It should be single-family homes. I know that may not be as cost-effective, but it’s the only appropriate way.”

Earlier in the evening, the committee heard from members of the Odenton Heritage Society, who said townhomes would not be in keeping with the neighborhood.

Supporters of the plan countered that major provisions in the master plan encouraged higher density, and that the rules for the historic district only addressed issues relating to architecture.

"I think it was the wrong decision," committee chairman Jamie Fraser said. "The [lower] density we voted for is not in the best interest ... my side of it is that there should be higher density near the train station and the town center in general."

Meanwhile last night, residents along North Patuxent Road submitted a petition stating that they were not properly informed of zoning changes that allowed for more dense residential development. Mike Fox, a county planner, said such zoning changes were approved in 2004, when the Odenton Town Center Master Plan was being crafted.

Edward Charles August 03, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Joni, I do appreciate Odenton's heritage but feel it is not being publicized or celebrated strongly enough to make people aware. Ed
Robert August 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Tim, thanks for the response.
John August 03, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sound like time for a moratorium on new housing. My parents live in such an area in MD and it's like heaven. The vampire squid developers were sent packing after the local area almost reached saturation.
JFB August 25, 2012 at 02:28 AM
In some respects I must disagree with your "bad plan is better than no plan at all". If you have a bad plan, you can work to make it better... if you have a bad plan and you move forward with a bad plan the results will ALWAYS be bad.
JFB August 25, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Agree with high density, disagree with the layout of the plan. The decision was a good one.

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