Rather than jump right off the deep end with an antagonistic opinion about this story, I'm going to ask a few questions first. My hope is that some of the locals -- or perhaps someone who knows what the locals are thinking -- can offer greater insight into the situation than was afforded by the Sun yesterday.
OK, first, the details. When the story says "20 duplex units" does it mean 20 housing units or 20 duplexes, meaning 40 units? This is a pretty substantial difference for many obvious reasons, but the main reason I ask is for a better understanding of the actual density of these developments.
Plans for two multiunit duplex developments in Elkridge for moderate-income families have been shelved, at least for now, because of vigorous public opposition.
...John Liparini, president and chief executive officer of Brantly, abandoned the two projects after numerous residents objected and County Councilwoman Courtney Watson vowed legislation to prohibit additional duplexes in much of Elkridge, although she acknowledged the bill probably could not be applied retroactively to affect Brantly's plans.
"It's not worth it to me or my company," Liparini said during a community meeting that was attended by about 100 people.
Many of those people were not residents adjacent to the sites of the proposed developments, and Liparini said he wishes to meet with them before deciding how to develop the properties.
The parcels affected are both zoned R-12, which is single-family residential lots of 12,000 square feet. The county, however, has permitted duplexes with approval of a conditional-use permit.
The Brantly Development Group was seeking permits to construct 20 duplex units on 7.22 acres on Old Washington Road near the Norbel School and eight duplexes on 1.5 acres, also on Old Washington Road.The structures would be designed to appear as single-family homes to blend in with the neighborhood, Liparini said, but each unit would be about half the size of a traditional home.
If it's 20 units, then the density would be 2.77 units/acre, leaving a maximum possible lot size of 15,726 square feet, well above the 12,000 square feet minimum required by R-12 zoning. However, this leaves out mandatory set asides -- open space, roads, rights-of-way, etc. -- that will surely reduce lot sizes. Any guidance on how much land is non-developable (and not relevant to density calculations) on either of the contested properties is also appreciated.
Next, the details of the opposition. Some in the story make reference to the fact that moderately-priced housing will reduce the value of their properties. This may or may not be true and it's not usually an argument I buy into, but I'll listen.
The vague notion of incompatibility is another source of objection.
(Notice the differentiation between "duplexes" and "residential homes.")
Watson, elected to her first term on the council in November, said, "Two-family dwellings is not compatible with Elkridge. ... We don't want noncompatible development."
She said her legislation would ban duplexes on property zoned R-12, and she urged the residents to press the other council members for support. "You don't have to convince me," Watson said. "It's the other council members."
Calvin Ball, the council chairman, attended the meeting and indicated his support of the legislation.
Valerie McGuire, president of the Greater Elkridge Community Association, said the duplexes were not acceptable. "People are upset because you're suddenly placing these duplexes in the middle of these residential homes. ... The opposition was unanimous, and I think they heard that loud and clear."
In this case, how are duplexes noncompatible with Elkridge (or even this specific area of Elkridge)? Are we talking about aesthetics, because it sounds like they'll look just like single family homes? Infrastructure?
I mean, there are already condos, apartments, townhouses and even mobile homes in Elkridge. So, why the special concern for duplexes? Is it all a function of the location of this specific project?
You can probably tell which way I'm leaning on this development, but I'm honestly looking for more information before I shoot off at the mouth.
That said, I think banning duplexes from R-12 zoning -- like most reactionary policies -- is a fantastically horrible idea.