County Council Opens Route 1 for Development

Local legislators voted unanimously that infrastructure was in place in Elkridge to support new residential projects.

The County Council voted unanimously last week to approve legislation opening Elkridge for development.

The Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) said on Thursday that means 140 units (residential lots or apartment units) can now be constructed in Elkridge.

Annually, the council must sign off on whether there are enough resources in place to accommodate development, based on school enrollment projections.

If schools are under 115 percent capacity, those districts are deemed open for development, according to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) in the Howard County Code.

The chart outlining enrollment projections for 2014 was presented to the County Council in the fall.

Usually, the chart is adopted in July but at that time last year, Elkridge schools were  owned by the county for development.

"The reason we are voting on the open/closed chart now is because the school system was able to in the northeast in Elkridge at Ducketts Lane and that site did settle last week so we are now able to adopt the open and closed chart," said Councilwoman Courtney Watson (D-Elkridge/Hanover/Ellicott City), at the Feb. 6 meeting.

"I want to thank the school system for working so diligently to get that school open in 2013 on time and as usual, under budget," said Watson. "I vote yes" to the open/closed chart, she added.

The chart with school projections is referred to as the "open/closed chart" because it shows which areas are open or closed to development by school district.

According to the chart, ,  and Bellows Spring would be over capacity for the 2014–2015 school year but the opening of the Ducketts Lane elementary school in 2013 will change those projections.

Also, , Bonnie Branch, and Ellicott Mills are charted to be over capacity but a new middle school project will change those projections, opening those school districts to development too; a  is on the books at Oxford Square, a residential and commercial development in the planning stages on Coca Cola Drive.

The council approved another chart in tandem with the open/closed chart that listed how many housing allocations would be allowed in each area starting in 2014.

The council adopted the chart in December and then voted to retract its vote the following month, upon learning that by County Code, the open/closed and housing allocations charts must be adopted together.

In adopting the housing allocations chart last week, the council approved 3,326 units to be built in Howard County in 2014.

"The allocations for Elkridge are still at 140," said Kimberley Flowers, director of public affairs for the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ), in an email Thursday.

However, the category "Elkridge" does not include all development that may take place in this area.

For example, developers may build 218 additional units in the category "Route 1," and 209 units have been set aside for Elkridge.

—a mixed-use commercial/residential development near the —requested and was tentatively granted 150 units under the Route 1 category. Oxford Square, which is not on Route 1, requested and was tentatively granted 59 units in the Route 1 category as well.

Oxford Square requested and was tentatively granted 91 units under the green neighborhoods allocations too.

Another category allocated 87 units for moderate-income housing (MICU), a program providing more affordable housing to citizens of a certain income bracket; 59 of them are in Elkridge.

Elkridge Village Center was tentatively granted 32 units of  and Blue Stream was tentatively granted 27.

So including allocations for Elkridge, Route 1, green neighborhoods and moderate-income housing, 499 units were approved by the County Council to be built in Elkridge in 2014. 

However, the DPZ may allow 20 percent more, according to APFO, meaning 599 units may be built in Elkridge in 2014.

Paul D February 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
The County Council better start being more vocal and aggressive against the CSX freight yard being placed in our area because if it is placed in our area you can kiss that Oxford Square middle school site bye-bye.
Jack February 14, 2012 at 04:03 AM
"meaning 599 units may be built in Elkridge in 2014"..... Elkridge needs another school again. "In adopting the housing allocations chart last week, the council approved 3,326 units to be built in Howard County in 2014.".....That has to equal another 5 schools Howard county needs????????
Adam R February 14, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Here is an old approach that works: revitalize route 1 with some business. Subsidize business opportunity so we can have more employment in the county and that will come back to all in terms of business taxes and payroll taxes. Plus it might encourage more people to purchase from the glut of homes available in Howard!
BK February 14, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I can tell you first hand from fighting the rezoning 10 years ago that to the county, revitalization equals density. I've said it all along - the main reason the Ducketts Lane site was pushed so hard was so that the county council could open Elkridge up to building. This isn't about the kids or quality education. As angry as I am with the BOE, the mandate for the Ducketts Lane school came down from the county administration - namely the executive and the council. And yes - you are all right, this school does not alleviate the overcrowding because the County Council will not stop the development.
Kim Dixon February 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Thats what I've been saying all along. It won't stop till were arr totality built out, all they county is concerned with is serving at the pleasure of the developers


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