David Yungmann District 5 County Council posted the following information on social media on September 8th:
Tonight the Council approved granting an easement on an approximately 600 foot stretch of county roadway near the intersection of Rt. 108 and Old Columbia Rd. in Ellicott City. The road currently provides access to seven private properties that are being combined into one parcel, at which time the road will serve only that single property. Following past practice, the county originally proposed conveying the roadway to the remaining property owner for it to become a private road no longer owned or maintained by the county.
This particular transfer has become a political football due in part to the community’s opposition to the proposed development and an inaccurate belief that that the county transfer is somehow enabling the project. The combined properties already have greater density (buildable residential units) than what is being proposed and sufficient property to develop its project. The property is properly zoned for what is being proposed and a residential project of this or greater size will be built there with or without the county road parcel conveyance.
Another concern is related to the value of the property. In the open market, the property has little value as a buyer would need to maintain it as the access road to the single property. However, because the number of zoned units is a function of property size, the parcel could have far greater value to this specific buyer if it were trying to maximize the number of units in its project or if it needed more land on which to fit its project. The $1 million plus appraisal that is generating so much discussion on social media is assumes both of those to be true. But additional density has never been a part of this road transfer and the county has no interest in enabling a larger project than is already possible without the county property. Appraisals that were performed in order to value the parcel assuming it was not needed for additional density valued the property at $50,000 and $20,000.
To ensure that no additional density is created, the ownership sale has been changed to the granting of an easement restricted to ingress/egress and street parking only. The original intent of divesting the county’s maintenance obligations will be achieved without granting the receiving party the ability to consolidate it or use whatever density might have otherwise been associated with fee ownership. This was the original intent of the county transferring the soon to be private road obligations and nothing else.
I know how hard it is to find factual information about local issues here in Howard County. We no longer have a dedicated local newspaper and social media is filled with rumors, conspiracies and inaccuracies. Posts get reposted over and over until they become accepted as fact. I wish I had a solution to that larger challenge, but for now I hope this summary provides some understanding of this particular situation.
Here is the post on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HoCoCouncilD5/posts/2712140305717375