City Rejects Development Plans for Crystal Spring

Plans Sent Back as “Inconsistent, Incomplete, and Lacking Analysis and Detail”

On August 11, all of the voluminous filings and plans to develop the Crystal Spring and Mas Que Farm properties were sent back to the developers and owners for major revisions before the City would even process the woefully inadequate plans. The Office of Planning and Zoning cited numerous and substantial “deficiencies in the applications [that] must be corrected before the Department is able to send them [for] agency review.”

This action is a complete vindication for Citizens for Proper Land Use and their Stop Crystal Spring campaign as these opponents had raised many of the same issues concerning these July 25 filings. Click here to read our full set of comments on the July 25 filing.

The changes insisted upon by Planning and Zoning include a directive ignored by the developers to include a right-of-way dedication for the relief road for a full connection from Skipper Lane near the CVS all the way through the Crystal Spring property crossing Forest Drive and connecting with Gemini Drive. Such a relief road is required under the terms of the annexation agreement to relive traffic. The developers in their filings for the first time denied they are still so obligated especially as they must make “an equitable contribution” to the cost of this road. The road is likely to cost at least $10 million.

Planning and Zoning also insisted that the required 75 acre conservation easement on land on Mas Que Farm be delineated and all its restrictions be shown, another major deficiency in their filings. The developers appear to have ignored the requirement and have scattered close to 74 forested acres to be protected throughout the property in parcels as small as 0.3 acres, much of this forested land already required to be protected under existing laws. This plan would leave newly created subdivided lots at Mas Que Farm open to development.

Planning and Zoning is also insisting on much more detail in the subdivision plan with existing and proposed lots and their metes and bounds and wants to see development plans for these lots. They could be developed with hundreds of more homes, including multi-family homes, under existing zoning. Some of these larger lots could be developed with eight units per acre or 144 units on one 18 acre proposed lot at Crystal Spring. All of this non-senior development on land to be retained by Janet Richardson Pearson is in addition to the 383 senior homes and apartments proposed. The total number of housing units could easily exceed 600, more than ever proposed for Crystal Spring before and the overall footprint could be much larger than ever proposed.

The Forest Conservation Plan filed sent back proposes to clear 39.5 acres and replant only 14.45 acres, violating a commitment to replant 100% of forests cleared. Further, the current plan would clear more forest that the last plan filed on December 31, 2014 for the mixed use development and increases the number of senior homes from 362 to 383 while greatly increasing the footprint for the senior component.

Former Senator Gerald Winegrad, a leader of the opposition, said that: “We compliment the City for their actions in rejecting this destructive and massive proposal that would destroy nearly 40 acres of contiguous forest with no plans for complete reforestation as pledged. The plans would even allow more development than ever proposed including the creation of new lots throughout the entire 179 acres. Making the plans worse, the developers offer no traffic improvements whatsoever despite the failing intersection at Spa Road and Forest Drive.”

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Below are P&Z’s comments as entered into the City’s website:
(8/11/2017 1:39 PM ETS)
Providence Point 8/10/17

Application(s) review for completeness. TrakIt No.: SE2017-004 is the parent application for the various applications included with the submittal (special exception, subdivision, adequate public facilities, forest conservation plan & variance).

Deficiencies with the applications are as follows:

Special Exception:
• A complete zoning analysis, in table form, on the site plan is required,
• Plan sheets should be reduced to 24 x 36 for ease of use by all agencies, planning commission and board of appeals,
• All plans require professional seals,
• Provide a copy the application for CCRC to MD Dept. of Aging,

Subdivision:
• Need a subdivision application that conforms with Title 20 of the City Code,
• Application only includes a subdivision concept,
• Please separate out plans that pertain to the subdivision application with existing and proposed lots, with metes and bounds, with conservation easement areas,
• Require a code analysis of how the project complies with the subdivision and zoning regulations,
• Application to include easement documents for the 75 acre conservation area with its restrictions,
• Proposed lots must have buildable area and street frontage,
• Provide deeds, plats, etc. to existing properties and rights-of way,
• Application to include right-of-way dedication for full Skipper Lane connection, with alignment at Gemini Drive,

Forest Conservation Plan:
• Sheet C-5.01 total tract area does not match civil or subdivision plans,
• What does “remainder” stand for within the FCP worksheet? The worksheet should utilize the total site area, not portions,
• Plans are difficult to read and should be in color as was the FSD,
• FCP application to include entire FSD approval,
• Justification shall include entire site and should be updated for the current proposal,
• Tree numbers noted in July 21, 2017 do not correspond to the Removal Table on sheet C-5.02,
• Need to delineate 100 ft. buffer to nontidal wetlands in addition to the intermittent stream,
• In addition to variances for clearing priority forest and significant & specimen trees, the applicant is required to, show how techniques for forest retention have been exhausted and demonstrate why priority forests and priority areas… cannot be left in an undisturbed condition,

Variance:
• Application needs to identify which lots are applicable to the variance request, we believe this to be Lots 2 & 3,
• Statement in support shall be directed these two Lots, not the 175 acre site,

Adequate Public Facilities:
• Traffic statement must address the entire proposed subdivision,
• Provide build out scenario for all proposed lots with highest and best use(s),
• What is the purpose of Lots 5, 6 & 7?,

Overall the applications are inconsistent, incomplete, lack analysis and detail. Further, the plans are difficult to read and understand. It would be helpful if the applications were broken into two separate packages; one for the total site, including–subdivision, forest conservation and adequate public facilities and one for the development site, including—special exception, site design & variance.

These deficiencies in the applications must be corrected before the Department is able to send them agency review.

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