New Series: Everybody has an opinion on new development in Howard County. And if you didn't already have enough opportunity to let your opinion be known, here's another chance! This new series will provide the facts and background on a specific new development and allow readers to weigh in on whether they think this is a good development or not. If you like this feature, I'll continue the series. Please comment on the accompanying Facebook post.
Cedar Creek Development (formerly known as Simpsons Oak)
If you have traveled along Grace Drive recently between River Hill and Cedar Lane, you may have noticed a large area of woodland that has been cleared just to the west of the corporate headquarters of W.R. Grace and east of the Pointer's Run residential area. North of Route 32 and south of the Middle Patuxent River, the land is being razed and leveled for the Cedar Creek development (formally referred to as Simpson Oaks), which will be made up of 184 housing units - 103 single-family homes and 81 townhouses. 19 of the townhouses will be designated as moderate-income units. The average lot size for the single family homes will be about 9,000 square feet (about 1/5 an acre). Chesapeake Realty Partners is the developer and NV Homes is the builder. While pricing is not yet available, I would not be surprised to see the selling price for these new luxury single-family homes approach or possibly exceed $1 million.
The County Council approved the development back in April 2015 (here is the official decision and order from the county approving the development and here is the Baltimore Sun story). As part of this approval, the land was rezoned from commercial use to a Community Enhance Floating District, a category of land zoning which allows for more flexible zoning guidelines in exchange for a higher quality of design and amenities than may have been otherwise possible for a site.
As a condition of approval for the development, about half of the 66-acre development will donated to Howard County's Department of Recreation and Parks. This half of the project will remain woodlands and nature trails will be added that connect the development to the Robinson Nature Center. These newly created trails, overlooks, and foot bridges will be available for public use. Additionally, the developer has committed to constructing a bike path along the entirety of Grace Drive, which would connect to the Columbia Association paths further west on Grace Drive that are interspersed throughout the River Hill / Pointers Run neighborhood and the to-be-constructed Hickory Ridge Bike Corridor to the east that will ultimately provide a connection to Downtown Columbia.
Over the past several years, the project has been slowly moving through the county design and review process. The village of River Hill supported this project when it was considered by the zoning board five years ago. The Village of River Hill also hopes to annex the development into their village, which will require property owners to pay the Columbia Association assessment, adhere to Association covenants, and follow the architectural guidelines of the village association. These homes will zoned for Swansfield Elementary School, Clarksville Middle School, and River Hill High School.
Note that this development should not be confused with Robinson Overlook, which is a separate development further down Grace Drive closer the intersection with Cedar Lane that will be comprised primarily of affordable housing units.