BURBS There are more ostriches (eight) in the town of Buckingham than homeowners (one). It’s an odd fact about an odd place, a town that’s been on hold since 1983 when its residents sold their comfortable homes and spacious lots to developers who saw the community as a block of prime real estate. Buckingham Development Venture envisioned a grand retail and entertainment complex on the town’s 150 acres, but plans soon collapsed in a crash-and-burn economy. Buckingham is now a town of deteriorating houses, overgrown lots, and renters-like ostrich breeder TOM KEELY-on 30-day leases.

The once-rural hamlel and Richardson, which surrounds it, are at last on the verge of reaching a long-term agreement on crucial city services that would allow Buckingham to move forward, according to ROBERT SCHRAPLAU of Whitehall Development Co. But the two towns weren’t always so cooperative. Relations were strained when Buckingham’s original homeowners voted their town wet at Buckingham Development’s request. Dry Richardson threatened to sever contracts for the services it provided if the plans went through. Animosity boiled over last year when Richardson briefly removed its school zone speed limit signs from a Buckingham elementary school.

Now, Whitehall is promising “more conservative” development, calling for apartments and low-rise office buildings. Richardson seems willing to accept the new plans, and even a few liquor stores in its midst. The first booze vendor opened last November amid little fanfare, operating quietly-and drawing most of its customers from neighboring Richardson.


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