Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007

Board approves design for housing on 15-acre lot

No longer planned for assisted living, new development would include 12 homes

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A preliminary plan for a new Burtonsville housing development was approved Thursday by the Montgomery County Planning Board two years after a plan to convert the property into a multi-building nursing home was met with community opposition.

The proposal by Bethesda-based Hemingway Homes calls for 12 single-family homes on the Athey property, a 15-acre lot bordered by Santini Road to the west, Route 198 to the south and the access road to Burtonsville Elementary School to the east. The development’s entrance would be off the access road.

‘‘It’s going to be a nice cul-de-sac in a private community, near commercial development,” said Noah Cantor of Hemingway Homes.

The property is also classified as a ‘‘cluster subdivision,” meaning development will be confined only to certain areas on the land. Cantor said two large green spaces, one near Santini Road, the other near Route 198, have been set aside, and the center of the cul-de-sac will feature a giant maple tree.

While the property is still in the planning stages, the homes will be built in a traditional style and reflect architecture already in the community, Cantor said, with patios and stone facades. The homes will start in the ‘‘upper six figures,” he added.

‘‘The family is very pleased,” said Gene Krouse, a lawyer for the Athey family’s six grown children. ‘‘It’s a shame it took so long, but this plan will provide 12 beautiful residences.”

The Santini Road Property Owners Association had opposed plans in 2005 to build a senior housing facility on the site, said Charles Peters, the association’s president. That proposal called for about 150 units in eight buildings on the property.

Santini Road residents are happier to see single-family homes next door, Peters said.

But Barry Mydlowski, another resident of Santini Road, said that while a housing development is better than a nursing home, he is still concerned about more traffic coming to an already congested area. ‘‘We can’t get out of our street from 4 [p.m.] to 6 [p.m.] without waiting 20 minutes to make a left turn,” he said.

His mother, Betty, agreed. The Mydlowskis have lived on the property since 1978, and Betty Mydlowski said the area is growing at a rate faster than it can handle.

Cantor said the development’s layout and small size should limit its impact on congestion. ‘‘A community of that size, in our experience, doesn’t create that much more traffic,” he said.

Stuart Rochester, chairman of the Fairland Master Plan Committee, agreed, saying the proposed development would be the ‘‘least impactful” on traffic when compared to other plans for the site.

More importantly, the development would add higher-end, ‘‘move-up” homes to the area, keeping people in the community, Rochester said.

Construction could begin by the end of the year, Cantor said, with the houses ready for residents by the end of 2008.