Development plan back with fewer houses

February 01, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

A 1,267-unit housing development proposed near Williamsport last year, then withdrawn, is now one-fourth smaller, but commercial property and a school have been added.

Williamsport Ventures LLC refiled the plan with Washington County in December for 967 housing units, plus unspecified commercial development and an elementary school near Sterling Road.

About seven months ago, Williamsport Ventures LLC presented the county with a plan for a 1,267-unit development south of Sterling Road, east of Edward Doub Road and north of Kendle Road.


In November, the Washington County Planning Commission, worried about school capacity and traffic, voted 3-0 to recommend denying a zoning change the project needed.

Before the Washington County Commissioners could make a final decision on the zoning, Williamsport Ventures LLC pulled its proposal.

Michael Thompson, the county's planning director, said Monday that the current plan, like the earlier version, hinges on the county changing the zoning from agricultural to planned unit development (PUD).

The maximum density for agricultural land in Washington County is two units per acre. For a PUD, which allows a mix of uses, the maximum density is 12 units per acre, Thompson said.

The first Williamsport Ventures LLC plan had about 3.8 housing units per acre. The newer plan has about 2.9 units per acre on 330 acres, he said.

Thompson said a rezoning hearing for the new proposal probably would be held in the middle of March.

Thompson said Heritage Land Development of Glenwood, Md., is the company proposing the project under the name Williamsport Ventures LLC.

M. Jeremy Rutter, Heritage Land Development's director of development, did not return two messages left at his office Tuesday.

The new concept plan has about 18 acres for an elementary school.

William Blum, the Washington County Public Schools' chief operating officer, said Tuesday that the school has talked to the developer about setting aside land for an elementary school first and a middle school later.

Blum said an elementary school for 600 to 750 students usually needs about 15 acres. A middle school needs about 30 acres, he said.

The school buildings are not in the district's capital improvement program because planning for development is in the early stages, he said.

According to the concept plan, the 967 housing units include:

  • 394 single-family houses

  • 476 town houses

  • 24 duplexes

  • 73 senior citizens

The plan also shows a little more than 6 acres to be developed commercially.

Staff writer Karen Hanna contributed to this story.

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