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Press Release (as featured in The Daily Times)

Project sets a good example: Buyers, developers should emulate Village Down River

Arial view

In the midst of an onslaught of residential projects around the Lower Shore, a true gem has come to light. Most projects seek to squeeze as many units (houses, condos or town houses) as allowed onto a tract, build them at the lowest possible cost and then sell them for top dollar. Many developers have an interest in the property only until the deal is closed. Impact on the community and project design in terms of the lifestyle of the residents are overlooked as much as possible.

But one riverfront site along Riverside Drive Extended is being developed in a radically different way. Village Down River, located west of Shad Point, will be a "great community" of 46 homes (instead of high-rise condos), 13 of which will be waterfront properties and the rest of which will have open-water views.

But that's not the unusual and desirable part. The rest of the land will eventually offer more than two miles of trails for hikers and bikers (instead of a golf course), a marina and a community building that will be a renovation of the old farm house where the former property owner's family lived.

Fence in Winter

And instead of 46 individual septic systems, a state-of-the-art, on-site sanitation plant with a drip irrigation system will make the whole project more environmentally sensitive. A caretaker will be house in the renovated farm house, too, to pick up mail for the residents, cut grass when homeowners are out of town and perform other duties.

The location is a former industrial site used by a menhaden fleet, but has been cleaned up and declared in need of no further work by both the Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of the Environment.

Unlike many other projects around the Shore, nearby residents are not complaining about the Village Down River, Terra Firmma, the company that is developing the site, could have opted to try for riverfront high-rise condos with more intrusive amenities and most likely netted more profit. Instead, it is embarking on a project that will make money, but also satisfy conservationists and neighbors -- and offer an attractive lifestyle to future residents.

While this column is sometimes accused of being pro-development, our opinions have really only supported managed growth that will minimize negative impacts and allow the inevitable to occur in a tolerable manner. Village Down River is exactly that kind of project.

Flower

We would like to see more developers put extra time and thought into creating communities in all price ranges -- both for owner-residents and rentals -- that minimize environmental impact and maximize our region's potential as rural community. That could mean less money in the pockets of those who develop property and sell homes, but even those people will benefit from a community that is well thought-out and designed with the best interest of future residents in mind.

We believe this concept could be expedited by homebuyers who demand such qualities. If buyers weren't snapping up cheaply build houses at top dollar as fast as they can be erected, builders and developers would have an incentive to meet the demands of potential customers.

We applaud the Village Down River project and look forward to seeing the first houses under construction by next spring.