Frederick County planning commissioners have granted a request to let people younger than 55 live in the proposed Ballenger Run development.

The owner of roughly 197 acres on Ballenger Creek Pike on Wednesday night secured the county planning commission's unanimous blessing to lift an age restriction from the bulk of the project.

With the volatility of the housing market, age-restricted communities had become a less viable option for the Ballenger Run development, project representatives said.

"It was also very clear from the beginning that this location, with schools all around it ... was much better suited to an all-age community," said Steve Oder, the project manager.

Plans approved in 2006 allowed for 970 age-restricted homes on the property just across from Tuscarora High School.

The development plans now would include 855 dwellings, a community center, open space, a trail along Ballenger Creek and a roughly 13-acre school site.

Though the property owner, RBG Family LLC, aims to open most of the homes to all ages, it is reserving 200 units for a retirement community. If the market isn't right for such a community, the project leaders might opt to build age-restricted homes instead, said Bruce Dean, an attorney representing RBG Family at the hearing.

Planning Commissioner Robert Lawrence pressed county staff about whether building homes in place of a retirement community would create "cramped quarters" in that section of the development. Eric Soter, the county's director of community development, said if space is limited, the project designers will simply put fewer than 200 homes in that area.

In the end, Lawrence said his concerns had been allayed for the time being, and he joined his six fellow planning commissioners in approving the requested plan changes.

The proposals met with only a smattering of public comment Wednesday evening.

A resident of a community bordering Ballenger Run to the north said he was concerned the new development would worsen flooding problems in his neighborhood. The resident, Brian Klein, started noticing the water troubles after a nearby piece of land was prepared for development.

"I've had a foot of water in my backyard recently every time a heavy rain comes," said Klein, president of the homeowners association for the Ballenger Crossing community.

Oder said that he is aware of the problem and that designers will look to resolve the water issues with some kind of buffer between the neighborhoods.

Planning commission members also unanimously signed off on a drafted development rights and responsibilities agreement for Ballenger Run.

The 20-year agreement locks the Ballenger Run proposal into an array of county approvals based on current local regulations, thereby offering the property owner greater stability over the life of the project. In return, RBG Family agreed to improve Ballenger Creek Pike, construct trails along Ballenger Creek and Pike Branch and pay about $3.4 million in mitigation fees for new school capacity.

The Ballenger Run development will add an estimated 276 pupils to surrounding schools. County projections show the influx of new students would push Ballenger Creek Elementary and Tuscarora High above capacity, according to Soter.

County commissioners will review the rights and responsibilities agreement Oct. 1, a county planner said.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(21) comments

backroomfrederick

Need to get some younger lungs into the area...some that can stand up a little better to the incinerator, cement production and tire burning.

i70corridor

You ever get the feeling your playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers. I have that feeling. My comment was plain and simple and only the pure idiotic would mis-read it.

teabiscuit

Mr. Oder, if it was "so very clear from the beginning that this location, with schools all around it....was much better suited to an all-age community" why did the developer specifically ask for an "age-restricted" designation when the property was being considered for development? Is it possible that the developer and the attorney knew that the proposed development would not have been approved at the time because of the school over-crowding in that region? It is easy to see why some might consider this a "bait and switch" - which is what Commissioner Thompson and others suggested would happen when the property was first being considered for development.

Daimejane

i70corrodor, you need to take a chill pill. We know the kids from Adamstown will be educated but where will they have to go to get it is the concern. Yes, Fredeick is a great county and we are trying to keep it that way and what does 50 years ago have to do with anthing!

dressthebird

Well, there was this great speech...

richardlyons

More of the same. 14 months till election day.

jwhitmor

Age restricted housing is a challenge given occupancy requirements per the federal government and the nature of the senior market. Those consumers die and have to be replaced at higher rates compared to other market segments. These consumers also want high amenities and potential medical needs that are far in excess of what traditional developers want to provide.

Site specific new development doesn't lend itself to this type of market, given those challenges. Infill is more practical, but then the costs exclude everyone except the wealthy, and they can be choosy going to the taj retirement communities. Elderly seniors that aren't wealthy end up staying put until they can no longer continue (steps and walking in general become a challenge) and then end up relying on Medicare at the retirement home. Expect more of these 55+ development conversions.

usgov

The reality is no one wants to live that pre-ghetto.

president8444

BOCC have final say if in county.Planning just suggests,no power.Many citizens who moved from afar complaining now.No more homes.

i70corridor

Stop crying for Christ's sake. Be proud that outsiders want to move into this great county. I doubt county gov will allow the poor poor kids from adamstown go un-schooled. Remember that with more homes comes more tax revenue. Which means more money allotted for school funding. What worked 50 years ago doesn't work today. People complain about not enough jobs but whine when a new shopping plaza is built in their back yard.

jwhitmor

It has been well documented that residential property taxes and fees do not pay for the public services residential properties use. In an equalizing scenario the community needs additional office, commercial, and industrial growth to offset the residential component.

ad_s_towel

Not everyone lives in a McMansion and not everyone wants their taxes to go up for increased school building costs. The developers, aided and abetted by the current BoCC, successfully have increased their profits while passing the costs on to the taxpayers of Frederick county. You can't build your way to prosperity unless the fees charged for the infrastructure mitigation actually cover those costs from the start.

Classist much? There are plenty of middle to lower income farm families in Adamstown and Buckeystown. You should be ashamed of your mocking of their economic status.

Tigerzord

[thumbup]

matthewboh

[thumbup]

collegegirl2013

I am proud of this county. However being one of the "kids" from Adamstown, I have a lot of pride living there. A lot of brilliant students , athletes and artist children come from Adamstown.

catcher

"'It was also very clear from the beginning that this location, with schools all around it ... was much better suited to an all-age community,' said Steve Oder, the project manager." Then why, pray tell, did the developer ask for age-restricted status in the first place, and why did the county idiotically grant the request?

The lesson to be drawn from this and the "Walmart on 40" fiasco is that developers get what they want, when they want.

fredneckian

Since when doesn't money talk in Good Ole Developer Boy County?

Tigerzord

Beware - this is happening all over the county. Two developments in Monrovia were supposed to be age restricted. Guess what - the bozos changed it and now Monrovia will more than double in size..... have you been on these roads!!! People want to live in Frederick County for what it is - NOT WHAT THEY WANT TO MAKE IT..... why do you think people are fleeing places like Montgomery County. Guess what again, that's what Frederick County will be - 16,000 to 18,000 proposed to be built in Frederick County - mostly southern FC.

ad_s_towel

$3.4 million won't even begin to cover it and the estimate of new students is almost criminally low. Displaced kids from Adamstown and Buckeystown will now go where: Urbana? Brunswick? Or will more schools need to be constructed in the Adamstown area?

Tigerzord

No room in Urbana! And who wants to be down wind of the incinerator they want to build anyway!

ad_s_towel

Schools, close to capacity, that will soon need portable classrooms plus new construction to accommodate the influx of students from this development.

Developers won. You lost.

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