The Capital: “Annapolis returns Providence Point application as incomplete”

Capital Gazette: August 25, 2017

By: Chase Cook, Capital Gazette reporter

Applications for an age-restricted living project were rejected Thursday by Annapolis planning officials for being “inconsistent, incomplete, lacking analysis and detail.”

The Village at Providence Point project, proposed by the National Lutheran Communities and Services, would have brought 355 independent living, 18 cottages, five duplexes and 48 health care suites to a 63-acre development off Forest Drive. A review of the project by the Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning dubbed the application “incomplete” and sent it back to the developers.

On the city’s project tracking website, eTRAKit, the project has a lengthy list of concerns. Some of the issues raised by planners include a code analysis of how the project complies with subdivision and zoning regulations, including easement documents for the 75-acre conservation area (which is required as part of the project) and reasons why priority forests “cannot be left in an undisturbed condition.”

Once they fix the issues, it can be resubmitted, Annapolis Planning Director Pete Gutwald said.

“(Applications are) usually not this cryptic,” Gutwald said. “We had a hard time reading and understanding what they were trying to do.”

City officials were also confused about specific lots drawn out in the application. Some of them were land locked or didn’t have a specific purpose, Gutwald said.

“We didn’t understand why they were creating additional lots,” he said. “It’s something they can fix … it is going to require a little more work on their part.”

A spokeswoman for National Lutheran Communities and Services said a response is being drafted.

“Our development team did receive the comments and are working on them,” said Courtney Malengo, National Lutheran Communities and Services spokeswoman. “We are happy to clarify whatever we can with the city and work to collaborate with them so they have what they need moving forward.”

“It is a rather voluminous document and there are a lot of moving parts and we want to be conscientious as we can.”

The Village at Providence Point project originally was tied to the controversial Crystal Springs project off Forest Drive. That project would mix age-restricted living with traditional housing, retail and commercial. It was an ambitious plan that energized both supporters and detractors, with the latter being more visible and vocal. Opponents to the former Crystal Spring project organized meetings at which participants pledged to fight the project in court and courted the support of elected officials.

Mayor Mike Pantelides was one such official. He pledged to stop the project while he was campaigning and later walked back his comments to indicate he wanted to reduce the plan’s scope and size.

Former state Sen. Gerald Winegrad has spearheaded opposition to the Crystal Springs project and The Village at Providence Point.

“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,” Winegrad said in a statement. “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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