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Development would literally level the playing field for area kids

Anne Arundel County may be saying goodbye to a safe place for kids to gather in the winter. This winter, especially, should have seen families flocking to the site at the intersection of Johns Hopkins and Riedel roads on the way to Crofton from Gambrills. It is, after all, a terrific sledding hill.

It is also the future site of a long-term care facility for seniors and patients with Alzheimer's disease. The project's developers plan to level the 10-acre property to build a 90,000 square-foot, one-story structure. Their target completion date is summer 2016.

Before they break ground, though, the county must approve a special exception. County records show that the property is zoned for residential use, and an assisted living facility is considered commercial use. The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.

It isn't entirely clear how many people will show up for either side. Opposition to the exception will include the Greater Crofton Council, according to the organization's vice president. According to its website, the GCC represents communities and organizations in the Greater Crofton-Gambrills area. The GCC's specific objections were not expanded on, but one may be that there are several assisted living facilities in the area already -- one is within a mile of the sledding hill.

The developers say they have done their homework and are confident that the community needs more assisted living facilities. And, as far as Alzheimer's patients are concerned, the state agrees. The Maryland State Health Improvement Process says the need for memory care is on the rise: The number of Marylanders diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010 will increase about 10 percent by 2020. As baby boomers age, the trend is not likely to reverse itself.

The site in question is the second of two facilities the developers are planning. A three-story facility located on 4.5 acres off Ritchie Highway is slated for completion about a year from now. Each facility will have a 90- to 100-patient capacity.

Source: Capital Gazette, "Developers plan to 'level' sledding hill," Jake Linger, Feb. 14, 2014

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