By: Lauren Woodland, Communications Director, Stop Crystal Spring
On May 4, National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) filed plans for their senior development at Crystal Spring known as The Village at Providence Point.
The plans include 303 senior housing units and 48 health care suites, a chapel, recreation facility and new roads. The project would be built on 36 acres of the 175-acre site. There would be no commercial or retail elements.
Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, under the leadership of former state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, has succeeded in blocking more destructive developments for eight years. Our mission has been to protect this property in its entirety through fee simple purchase or a conservation easement. This has proven impossible as the owners are not interested in selling for such purposes (note the price tag would exceed $25 million) and the development parcel is under contract with National Lutheran.
Since current zoning allows development, we have acted aggressively to limit the amount and reduce traffic and environmental impacts. We focused on the four major issues below and pressed National Lutheran and the city to resolve them. Recent meetings with National Lutheran and discussions with city officials have gone a long way toward a resolution, but there are still problems. For now, we remain opposed to this project.
The biggest problem remaining involves a conservation easement that was to extinguish all remaining development rights other than a new Wellness House and some minor equestrian uses, assuring that 139 acres of the 175-acre site would be permanently protected and only the senior project would be developed.
However, the easement filed allows expansion of the senior facilities after 20 years and includes other changes that weaken protections. We are working on resolving these issues.
Stormwater is the major polluter of area waters, including the South River. National Lutheran plans meet our demand that stormwater management on the site handle a 25-year storm event so that the rate, volume, and pollutant flows will not exceed pre-development conditions. The plans also meet city standards for handling 125% of stormwater flows, exceeding state requirements.
They include 89 discrete bioretention cells (raingardens) covering 1.6 acres, plus green roofs and porous pavement, all soaking up stormwater. National Luthern will also restore a highly polluted stormwater runoff stream channel system that runs under Spa Road from Annapolis Middle School, draining 43 acres directly into Crab Creek.
Draft plans originally showed 700 linear feet of restoration but fell to only 502 feet in the new filing. We are insisting on the full 700 feet of restoration.
National Lutheran will pay for significant road and intersection improvements that should alleviate traffic concerns. They have also pledged to contribute six figures toward right-of-way costs for the long-planned connector road from the western side of the development to Skippers Lane behind the CVS.
This 560-foot road will allow residents to access the pharmacy, Safeway, and restaurants without using Forest Drive and Spa Road. The City would acquire the land and pay for design and construction.
NLCS will fully adhere to the city’s no-net loss ordinance and provide reforestation on-site for all 28 acres to be cleared. All 87.5 acres of remaining forest will be preserved in perpetuity along with the 28 acres replanted. Eventually, 115.5 forested acres would remain on the site permanently protected, the same amount that exists currently.
We appreciate CEO Larry Bradshaw’s willingness to work toward a resolution. Also, our thanks go out to Planning and Zoning staff and Mayor Gavn Buckley.
We will continue to work collaboratively in the hope that our remaining disagreements can be overcome, but we must oppose this project until that time.
Lauren Woodland is the communications director for Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use and lives on the Annapolis Neck. Read more about the organization at www.stopcrystalspring.org.
Link to Original Article: https://www.capitalgazette.com/opinion/columns/ac-ce-column-lauren-woodland-20200527-ecgf7epj65clfnu5zze4srpgo4-story.html