County commissioners on Tuesday stripped an age restriction from an 855-home project south of the city of Frederick.

At an evening meeting, officials also cut back the number of homes planned for the Ballenger Run development. The project was previously approved for 970 dwellings, all of which had been set aside for residents 55 and older. Though Frederick County commissioners decided to remove the age minimum, the property owners are reserving 200 of the dwelling units for a continuing care retirement community, according to the plans.

The roughly 130-acre project sits along Ballenger Creek Pike directly across from Tuscarora High School.

Since Ballenger Creek Elementary and Ballenger Creek Middle schools are also near the planned development, project representatives said it makes sense to open the housing to all ages.

"Everyone in this project is within walking distance of a school ... even if no new school is constructed. It's absolutely the perfect site for an all-age project," said Bruce Dean, an attorney who spoke on behalf of the property owners.

Commissioner David Gray questioned county staff about the number of students the proposed homes could introduce to surrounding schools.

County reports show the project would generate an estimated 276 students and that it fails school-capacity tests at the elementary and high school levels.

Gray also expressed concern about the additional cars that the new development would put on Ballenger Creek Pike, especially during the time of day that traffic is streaming into Tuscarora High.

Project representatives said that they are paying about $10 million to the county for the impact their development will bring to local schools. They are also providing a 13-acre school site.

Dean also said property owners have agreed to contribute more than $5 million toward off-site road improvements and will give the county 34 acres of parkland along Ballenger Creek.

Commissioner Paul Smith said he approves of the project plans.

"I don't know that there could be a more perfect place for a development," he said, noting that no one had spoken in opposition to the project. "This one does make eminent sense."

Four commissioners voted to approve the changes to the development plan, while Gray opposed them.

County officials Tuesday also sealed a development rights and responsibilities agreement for the Ballenger Run project. The 20-year agreement sets in stone certain zoning approvals and local laws that apply to the project. In return, the property owners, RBG Family LLC, agreed to widen Ballenger Creek Pike, build trails along Ballenger Creek and Pike Branch, and contribute to water and sewer improvements.

Gray was the only commissioner to vote against approving the agreement and accompanying letter of understanding with RBG Family.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(14) comments

CaringCommunity

Check this out...
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sue1955

I can't imagine how bad the traffic is going to be in that area once homes are built on that farmland across from Tuscarora High School as well as the housing being built along Butterfly Lane. It will be interesting to see how the planned road improvements are going to take care of the additional motorists. Right now, the two lane bridge over 70 where Himes Avenue comes into Ballenger Creek Blvd is backed up much of the day and, if there is an accident in that area, it is even worse. The back-up of vehicles waiting to go west on 70 as well as east toward 270 is very bad now at rush hours in the morning and afternoon. Very close by is the development going on now in the area of New Design Rd and English Muffin Way.

County2Lane

So they are paying $10 Million in school fees, $5 million in offsites for road improvements, giving the us a 13-acre school site, and giving 34 acres for parks along the creek and somehow the taxpayers lost out? Age restricted sites are in the toilet right now and most will be for some time. You may recall a little something called the housing crash. Folks who otherwise would buy into age restricted developments cannot sell their homes at prices that will allow them to buy into new 55+ places.

teabiscuit

And it costs about $25 million to build an elementary school, $40 plus million to build a middle school and anywhere from $70-80 million for a high school. The $10 million in school construction and impact fees being promised by this developer are not a drop in the bucket to what it will cost this county (read taxpayers) to build the schools to educate the children coming from these new developments. And I haven't even begun to address the roads issues. Yes, I would say with certainty that the taxpayers lost out - and will continue to lose out for the foreseeable future.

stevemckay

The ol' "age restricted" bait and switch yet again. Ballenger Creek, Landsdale, Monrovia Town Center - all proposed and approved as 55 and older when they couldn't pass the old (effective) APFO. Along comes a new BoCC, they gut the APFO, and all of the sudden the developers start citing "market conditions" for why the previously approved age-restricted communities should now be all-age. And we pay the costs in the end.

teabiscuit

Bingo! JThompson said it best...."developers won, you lost!". And now the Frederick County taxpayers will have to pay.

richardlyons

Blaine, Billy, Kirby and Paul never saw a cornfield they didn't want to pave over.

armillary

Blaine takes the developer road
as the streets and the schools overload
and the DRRA
will insure that we pay
as our county goes down the commode.

guido207

I wonder how much it costs, in terms of "campaign" contributions, for Blaine to turn Frederick County into his own personal toilet. Oops, I mean commode.

armillary

The MD campaign database suggests it's between 30 and 40 thousand per big developer. The little guys pay about 10 thousand. The Stanley's are in it for over 30 thousand, so you know MTC's a done deal.

guido207

The Young BOCC continues to overwhelm our schools by giving developers a free ride on school construction funding. The taxpayers will have to pay.

I didn't see a comment from the Board of Education. Why are they sitting back silently as their facilities are being filled up with no plans for relief?

peachow

Because they are apparently afraid the BOCC will withhold operating money if they dare oppose them on anything. That is how the BOCC rolls after all.

But, on a serious note, I think the real reason is because they have no idea what they BOCC is doing. The agenda for last night's meeting was just posted on Monday morning. The BoE did not meet to take a position between Monday and Tuesday night!

jthompson

The developers won, you lost!

peachow

Of course they approved it, and no one spoke against it because it would be a waste of time...yawn.

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