Anne Arundel County will purchase two properties in Pasadena for $8.5 million to build a fire equipment maintenance facility.
The County Council voted unanimously Monday to approve the purchase, which includes a two-and-a-half-acre parcel at 8300 Ritchie Highway and a 12-acre plot nearby, owned by Dynasplint Holdings.
The county has been seeking a location for a fire equipment maintenance facility for several years and had explored building it on a mostly vacant property in Glen Burnie owned by the county. That location will instead become a housing and retail development. The Pasadena location was chosen after the Department of Public Works completed an environmental assessment and feasibility study of the property which is now mostly occupied by old vacant structures.
The fire maintenance facility would have been ill-suited for the downtown Glen Burnie location, said Council member Allison Pickard, a Democrat, who represents the area.
“This has been a major need for the county,” said Pete Baron, director of government relations for County Executive Steuart Pittman. “We need a place to do it.”
The council also approved seven payment in lieu of taxes agreements between the county and developers of residential buildings with affordable or specialized housing programs. The five properties that will benefit from the 40-year agreements are Eagle Park Vista and Eagle Park Village in Jessup, Blue Oaks at North Odenton Apartments in Odenton, The Villages at Marley Station in Glen Burnie, The Village at Little Patuxent in Gambrills and Willows at Forest Drive in Annapolis.
The council’s four Democrats, Pickard, Sarah Lacey from Jessup, Lisa Rodvien from Annapolis and Andrew Pruski from Gambrills voted in favor of the five bills while the three Republicans, Nathan Volke from Pasadena, Amanda Fiedler from Arnold and Jessica Haire from Edgewater voted against all the agreements.
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The agreements enable developers to pay the county a negotiated amount rather than regular real estate taxes. In this case, it’s a tool being utilized to incentivize construction of affordable housing and units for seniors. The price of the housing is determined by the location of the property and the kind of unit.
In recent years the county has begun to take advantage of the payment in lieu of taxes programs in a whole new way, something Anne Arundel Affordable Housing Coalition Chair Trudy McFall said will expand the reach of affordable housing in the area.
“We’ve done PILOTs in the county for several decades and there’s nothing particularly new but what is new is the innovation shown in recent years in terms of the workforce housing and the senior housing and the kinds of provisions that allowed more affordable housing to be proposed and be viable in the county,” McFall said.
While the other four properties are for new projects, The Villages at Marley Station in Glen Burnie already has one of these programs in place for its 757 affordable units. It is currently being taken over by new ownership, requiring a new payment in lieu of taxes program to be established. The property is getting renovated.
Eagle Park Vista and Eagle Park Village will have 150 affordable units with 72 only available to seniors. Blue Oaks at North Odenton will also have 150 affordable units. The Village at Little Patuxent will have 78 units only available to elderly residents while Willows at Forest Drive will have 58 affordable units.
While it’s exciting to see so many affordable housing projects being built, it’s “a drop in the bucket” when compared to the more than 30,000 people currently on the county’s affordable housing waitlist, Pickard said.
“The number of folks on the waitlist for various types of affordable housing is enormous,” Rodvien said. “It’s only been growing.”