Howard County Council approves Patuxent Commons inclusive housing development in Colombia – Baltimore Sun
A 76-unit affordable housing project in Colombia that will support people with disabilities has been unanimously approved by Howard County Council.
Developed by Mission First Housing Group, the project envisions a 76-unit affordable apartment complex on a wooded lot at the northeast corner of Cedar Lane and Freetown Road in Columbia. Of these 76 units, 19 would be reserved for people with disabilities.
The complex, dubbed Patuxent Commons, was formally approved at a county council meeting on April 4 after a special financial agreement and waiver of the growth ordinance was approved.
The council approved a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, a mechanism used by local governments and developers to allow approval of projects when they might not otherwise be able to base themselves on costs . The agreements provide the developer with financial relief in the form of exemption from local property taxes for a specified period.
The project also qualifies for a special affordable housing exemption from the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. PFOA is an ordinance designed to direct growth to areas where adequate infrastructure, such as roads and schools, exists or will exist.
“We were pleased and encouraged by the council’s unanimous show of support … the vote was a victory, not just for Patuxent Commons, but for the cause of inclusive and affordable housing in Howard County and beyond,” said said Mark Dunham, consultant for the Howard County Autism Society.
During a legislative session on March 21, the project received strong community support from county residents, disability advocates, local real estate developers and elected leaders.
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Theresa Ballinger, an attorney representing the Howard County Autism Society, urged the board at the March meeting to “lead the way” by setting a revolutionary example in supporting people living with disabilities.
“We’re asking you to help lead a movement because nothing less than a movement is needed to create real change,” Ballinger told the council.
Next steps for Patuxent Commons include building a site adjacent to the Hickory Ridge Village Center. The developer is working with the Howard County Autism Society to create the complex.
Elizabeth Everhart, Senior Director of Mission First Housing Group, is delighted with the unanimous approval of the project. The group plans to begin construction in early 2023 and open to residents in 2024.
“We believe that Patuxent Commons could be a model for providing accommodation for adults with disabilities… the council took Theresa Ballinger’s words to heart and chose to ‘lead the way’ in providing the necessary approvals for the project to proceed” , Everhart said. . “We’ve been encouraged by the community support for the project and I think it really aligns with Columbia’s vision as an inclusive community.”
Dunham said adults with disabilities, older people and families will benefit from the council’s confidence in the project’s innovative concept.
“Our attorneys made a compelling case that this is exactly the type of housing that Howard County owns and the board agreed,” Dunham said. “We are delighted to move forward with the architectural design and program necessary to ensure it achieves its full potential.”