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 Odenton Town Center Plan Oversight Committee 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 called for as many as 90 homes. 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.