Crystal Spring developers National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS) will hold a public meeting on January 3 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church (1120 Spa Road). Since their last formal plan was rejected by the City in August 2017, National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS), has been meeting with city planning staff and working on a new proposal for their senior community, now called The Village at Providence Point. Under a new law passed in November, the developers must hold a community meeting prior to formally filing in order to seek input from the community on their new proposal. Following the meeting, they are required to report residents’ feedback to the City Planning and Zoning Department.
Here’s a quick update on the revised proposal–Thanks to our efforts, the development plans now under discussion have been reduced to include 303 senior homes and apartments and 48 assisted living units. The number of homes was reduced from 383 in their last filing and from more than 500 in the original plans. All retail/commercial uses and non-senior housing have been eliminated. Thanks to our advocacy, all additional development in the future beyond the senior units has been eliminated. Aside from the 35-acre footprint of the senior project, all development rights will be extinguished on the rest of the 180-acre property except for a new Wellness House and some equestrian-related additions.
After many futile requests to meet, NLCS finally agreed to sit down with our leaders. At these meetings chaired by city planning staff in July and September, we discussed the new plans and had the opportunity to present our concerns. While our meetings were productive, the developer’s subsequent Planning Commission presentation showed that the major issues we raised remain unresolved. This Commission has ultimate approval authority for this project.
We need your help to ensure that your/our concerns are resolved. Please help us by raising these four issues at the meeting on January 3rd:
- Traffic Mitigation
Traffic improvements need to be agreed upon to ensure that there will be better traffic flows. The improvements proposed are solid but also should include a parallel road from Skipper Lane behind the CVS to connect to the main road through the development. This would give senior residents direct access to the shopping center, eliminating the need to use Forest Drive and Spa Road for these trips. Improvements must also be made ahead of any development to be sure that construction trucks entering and exiting the property will not adversely impact traffic flows and safety.
- Reduce Forest Clearing and Replant 100% on Site
The current proposal would clear 30 acres of priority forest. We believe this can and should be reduced further. Our position is unflagging that 100% of forest cleared must and can be replanted on site. This is also consistent with the law now that the City Council has passed the No Net Loss of Forest ordinance. This law requires developers to replace trees cleared on an acre-for-acre basis. We worked closely with the Mayor and Council to ensure this legislation passed and that it would apply to the Crystal Spring development. This was a huge win as developers and their attorneys vigorously opposed the law and NLCS has been refusing to keep their promise to reforest 100% of forest cleared.
- No Net Increase in Pollutant Loads from Stormwater
The development site flows directly into Crab Creek, which is already one of the two most polluted tributaries of the South River due to stormwater runoff from developed land. Since 2013, the developers have consistently pledged that all new stormwater from the development would be retained or treated on site so as to eliminate any increase in rate, volume, or pollutant loads. It is essential that this pledge be met to handle at least a 20-year storm event, not simply the first 2 inches of rain as they are currently proposing.
- Conservation Easement to Extinguish Future Development Rights
The developers and landowner need to execute a permanent conservation easement that will extinguish all future development rights on the remaining 145-acres of the 180-acre Crystal Spring and Mas Que Farm properties outside the Providence Point footprint. They have already committed that there will be no future development on the remaining property except for some relatively minor permissible improvements related to the equestrian center and a new Wellness House. We have worked with the Scenic Rivers Land Trust to develop a draft easement with very tight language, which is currently being considered by the developers, owner, and their attorney. We feel confident they will agree to a conservation easement covering at least the 145-acres and are hopeful it will contain the terms we are seeking.