The shortage of single-family homes in Laurel is once again drawing the attention of the Laurel City Council. And once again, the catalyst is Larium Estates, a townhouse project proposed several years ago by a New York firm but never constructed.

A citizen, who said he opposed the townhouse construction because he believes single-family homes should be built on the property, questioned council members at this week's meeting on the plans of the developer, Manchester Advisory Co.

The council in 1978 approved the rezoning of the L-shaped property at 14800 Fourth St. from multifamily units to townhouses, with a portion set aside for construction of twin towers to house elderly citizens. The rezoning precluded construction of single-family homes, and the developers maintained that building individual houses would be too expensive.

The developers failed to break ground on the unit for elderly residents and lost the construction permit for that portion of the project last August. The company has not submitted its final building plan on contruction of the townhouses.

If Manchester fails to follow up on the preliminary construction plans, or if the firm fails to apply for building permits by September 1980, the zoning of the property could revert to its original status and the council could then decide whether to apportion the land for single-family homes.

City officials expect Manchester to present final construction plans next month, however. Depending on council action, the company could then have two years to apply for building permits.

Council member Hal Ammann (At-Large) said in an interview that he is convinced families will leave the Laurel area unless more individual homes are constructed.

"Unless you want to buy an old Victorian style home and restore it, there are absolutely no single-family homes available in the city," Ammann said. "That situation has to be corrected or the city will continue to lose more families."

The city planning and zoning office estimates that nearly 1,760 townhouses, condominiums and apartments have been constructed in Laurel since 1970, while only 24 single-family homes have been built during the same period. 1