The developer of Oxford Square on Coca Cola Drive is asking that he be allowed to build nearly double the number of housing units he initially asked for in the planned residential community, and he wants permission to erect drive-through commercial spaces on the premises.
In 2010, the County Council approved plans for Oxford Square in what had previously been an industrial area in Hanover on the condition that the community would include no more than 954 residential units, reduce dependence on automobiles and include a mix of office and residential spaces designed as multi-use buildings. As such, it would qualify as a "transit-oriented development."
Developer David Scheffenacker also offered in the original proposal to donate land for a school to the Howard County Public School System and to contribute up to $4 million toward its development should it be built by 2014.
Earlier this year, the Howard County Board of Education acquired a 20-acre parcel on Coca Cola Drive and architects are designing plans for a middle school there to be built by 2014.
Last month, Scheffenacker filed a petition with the Department of Planning and Zoning to change his plans. In particular, he is asking to build 1,776 residential units; provide shuttle service rather than pedestrian access to the Dorsey MARC station; and erect commercial spaces that are standalone rather than shared with residential structures. He is also asking for permission to build townhomes in addition to apartments.
Increased housing density could impact school system enrollment projections, which have been a source of contention on the Route 1 corridor.
The General Plan report issued this year states that single-family homes (townhouses in this case) tend to generate more students than multi-family living spaces, like the apartments Scheffenacker originally proposed.
According to a report from the Department of Planning and Zoning, Scheffenacker said the plan originally approved in 2010 would "underutilize the property's development capacity, fail to properly utilize the significant public investment already made in the MARC commuter rail system and miss a valuable opportunity to prevent urban sprawl and the continued degradation of the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Planning Board must come to a decision within 30 days of the Sept. 20 hearing.
Groundbreaking at Oxford Square is anticipated by October, Scheffenacker told the Howard County Times, with construction starting in spring 2013 and the first residential units to be complete by the end of that year.
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