CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR PROPER LAND USE, INC.
1328 Washington Drive
Annapolis, MD 21403
To: Planning Commissioners
CC: Tom Smith, Senior Planner, Department of Planning and Zoning
Date: December 9, 2021
Subject: Withdrawal of Objections to The Village at Providence Point Plans if Terms Agreed Upon Are Adopted as
Requirements for Project Approval by the Commission
Our group, Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, Inc., has unanimously agreed to withdraw our objections to the plans for The Village at Providence Point (TVPP) should the Planning Commission incorporate the terms and conditions recommended by Planning and Zoning and sought by our group. These terms include coverage of traffic, forest conservation, stormwater management, and the extinguishment of future development rights. All of these terms have been agreed upon by the applicant/developers for TVPP including National Luteran Communities & Services (NCSL), the owners of the properties, the City, and our group.
The terms we are asking to be made conditions for approval are found in the following documents:
1. Commitment letter to P & Z from National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) per Larry Bradshaw as
conditions for the approval of TVPP (attached);
2. Traffic commitments as detailed in the attached NLCS commitment letter
3. Approved Forest Conservation Plan provided for your approval by P & Z and Jim Urban’s supportive comments;
4. Stormwater management plans as approved and forwarded to you by P & Z;
5. Conservation easement on 123.1 acres extinguishing future development rights with some minor exceptions
6. Restrictive deed covenants extinguishing all future development rights on the remaining 52.5 acres (attached); and
7. Commitment letter (attached) to P & Z from NLCS per Larry Bradshaw assuring 100% compliance with sediment
and stormwater control and forest protection measures during construction and enforcement of all the terms imposed
by the City post-construction with citizen input and periodic meetings with the construction manager and afterwards
with the director of the retirement center.
These commitments agreed upon and the implementing conservation easement and restrictive deed covenants are the product of years of laborious, challenging work to reach agreement on a development plan that can serve as a model for sustainable development. Remarkably, we are at a point in this decade-long process at which all parties are in agreement including the owner of 165 acres of the site, Janet Richardson Pearson; the owners of the northernmost wedge of the site of about 10.6 acres represented by Alan Hyatt; the developer NLCS through its former President and CEO Larry Bradshaw; the Scenic Rivers Land Trust on the easement terms; Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, Inc. and CCPLU leaders in the Annapolis conservation and civic community as partially listed below:
Parris Glendening, former Governor and father of Smart Growth
Gerald Winegrad, former State Senator, President of Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, Inc.
Alderman Rob Savidge
Jesse L. Iliff, South, West & Rhode RIVERKEEPER
Fred Kelly, Executive Director The Severn Riverkeeper Program
Earl Bradley, Anne Arundel Sierra Club Chair
Anastasia Hopkinson and Ray Sullivan, Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation
Elvia Thompson, President & Co-founder Annapolis Green
Barbara Johnson, former President of Anne Arundel Bird Club and the Maryland Ornithological Society
John Frece, Former Director of the EPA and Maryland Smart Growth Programs
Chuck Ferrar, former County Councilman 6th District, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits Owner
Barbara Maxwell, former County Councilwoman 6th District
Amy Clements, leader of the Spa Creek Conservancy
Russell Stevenson, founder of Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Ann Fligsten, founder of the Growth Action Network
Beth Garraway, PhD, former Board Member, LCV & President Emerita, MD Independent Colleges and Universities.
Jim Urban, noted urban forestry expert
Jane McWilliams, Annapolis historian and author of the latest history of Annapolis
Marcia Verploegen Lewis, former LCV Board member
J. Kent McNew, business owner and conservationist
Fred (Rick) Kissel, former Annapolis Environmental Commission member
David Prosten, former Anne Arundel Sierra Club Chair & Vice President, Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use
Nancy Plaxico, Treasurer, Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use
Greg Walker, Attorney with significant expertise in local traffic issues
Angela Carpita, Science Teacher, Broadneck High School, 2nd Generation Annapolitan
Liz Vanden Heuvel, Co-Chair, Greater Annapolis Interfaith Network
All of these leaders have approved of the terms for withdrawal of objections to the project, praising the agreement we have reached. Below is but one of the commentaries we have received, this from former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening (1995-2003). He established the nation’s first state-wide, incentive-driven Smart Growth program for which he received Harvard’s Innovation in Government Award and was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. For the last 20 years, Governor Glendening served as the President of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, leading national efforts as an environmental advocate for Smart Growth, sustainability, alternate energy, transit, and in the fight against climate change. He is a City of Annapolis resident living on the Annapolis Neck Peninsula:
Thank you for the summary of the great progress with the Crystal Spring Development. Please accept the following as a statement of support for the mutually agreed upon changes.
I am aware of the commitments made by National Lutheran and agreed upon by Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use expertly chaired by former Senator Gerald Winegrad. As a member of that organization since 2013, I fully support withdrawing all objections to the proposed senior-only development if the commitments are met in City approval of the project.
This is a remarkable success where traffic flows may be improved, forest conservation no net loss goals are achieved, stormwater management is exceptional, and through easements and deed restrictions all land outside the development footprint will be protected from development with few minor exceptions. The 124 acres of forest there now will be permanently protected with forest replanted.
I commend Gerald and all others who have achieved this outcome that achieves some important Smart Growth goals.”
I should also note that John Frece, whose name appears above as one of the leaders supporting our position, was Governor Glendening’s Director of the Maryland Smart Growth Program and later served in a national capacity as Director of the U.S. EPA Smart Growth Program. John lives off of Spa Road where he must pass the project site daily.
We at Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, representing thousands of area residents, are all convinced that there never will be a more protective plan for this valuable 175.6 acre site. NLCS has met all four of our major objectives as noted below and we ask that these terms be incorporated as requirements by the Commission in any approval of TVPP in order to allow us to withdraw all our objections.
We offer a special thanks to Tom Smith at Planning and Zoning for working so diligently and long to perfect this project. He and P & Z have been an integral part in gaining the terms embraced in our agreement. P & Z’s support for the traffic measures, stormwater management terms, forest conservation measures, and the terms of the easement and deed covenants have prodded the process in finally reaching our mutual goals. Mayor Buckley is to be commended for his enlightened approach as is Alderman Rob Savidge. They helped light the way forward especially with the passage of the no net loss forest conservation ordinance.
Larry Bradshaw, representing NLCS, has been steadfast in working with us over the last few years to meet our concerns and to make TVPP a model project. Janet Richardson Pearson, the owner of most of the land, also has been amendable to preserving most of the land at the Crystal Spring site.
And thanks to all our contributors and supporters for their assistance over the years and especially to David Prosten, my co-chair for many years.
Here are our four major issues and how they would be resolved by adoption of the terms agreed upon:
TRAFFIC. The traffic plans are comprehensive and appear to improve traffic flows. We are very pleased with the extensive traffic improvements NLCS has committed to implement. Based on a thorough traffic impact study prepared for the City by STV Incorporated, the senior-only community will add about 60 AM and 60 PM rush hour vehicular trips to Forest Drive. We commend P & Z on insisting on the traffic study and for the selection of STV Incorporated. Here are the traffic improvements committed to by NLCS that should be included in any City approval of the project:
Roadway Improvements to be Paid for by the Developers:
1. Widening the south leg of Spa Road approaching Forest Drive to add a second northbound left turn lane to proceed westbound. The resultant lane use for this approach would provide two left turn lanes and a shared through and right turn lane;
2. A deceleration lane for southbound right turns on Spa Road to access the development site at the extension of Skippers Lane running through the property exiting at Spa Road;
3. A modified right turn lane on Forest Drive for eastbound turns accessing Crystal Spring Farm Road;.
4. Converting the intersection of Forest Drive at Crystal Spring Farm Road to a right-in, right-out only intersection to remove westbound lefts entering the site and northbound lefts exiting the site;
5. Changing the southbound lane use at the intersection of Forest Drive at South Cherry Grove Avenue from a shared through/left turn lane and a dedicated right turn lane to a dedicated left turn lane and a shared left/through/right turn lane while maintaining split phasing in the north and southbound directions; and
6. NLCS obtaining all necessary approvals from Anne Arundel County and the State Highway Administration and covering any associated costs to implement signalization timing improvements at the South Cherry Grove and Spa Road intersections with Forest Drive as recommended in the traffic study. The timing of the signalization lights along Forest Drive is a regular maintenance issue for the county and the county may use the TVPP development as a means to upgrade their entire single system on Forest Drive.
Roadway Improvements with Shared Costs:
Improvements include the long-planned connector road from Spa Road through the development to connect to Skippers Lane at Newtowne Drive behind the CVS. This is extremely important as it will reduce traffic on Forest Drive by allowing residents and workers at TVPP to access retail outlets including the drugstore and Safeway without going onto Spa Road or Forest Drive. All local residents, including those living down Spa Road, would be able to use this connector road as well. NLCS has reached an agreement with the American Legion to purchase the right-of-way on the Legion’s property and pay $181,000 for this leg of the Skippers Lane extension.
Pursuant to an agreement between the City and Hogan Companies, the other leg of the 580-foot connector road will be dedicated by the new owners, The Flynn Company, which has purchased the cleared property at Forest Drive across from Spa Road at 1710 Forest Drive. This land was previously proposed as the site for an evangelical church and later, a new City Public Works garage. The new owner would be responsible for allowing the right-of-way across the property and for paying for the construction cost of the connector road across the property. NLCS has already completed the design for this road from Spa Road through to Newtowne Drive and included it in its May 4, 2020 filings for TVPP. This meets a demand we have been insisting upon for eight years.
Other Commitments to Lessen Traffic Impacts:
1. NLCS met with the Annapolis Middle School principal and is committed to coordinating construction and employee schedules to reduce traffic conflicts with arrivals and departures from the school. Additionally, NLCS is committed to discussing the school calendar and schedule on a regular basis with the school and making any adjustments as necessary with the work schedules of TVPP employees.
2. Upon approval of its TVPP application, NLCS will prepare a construction management plan for input from affected parties. A final construction management plan to alleviate traffic, noise, and dust problems will be prepared with input from the City, Anne Arundel County, and the State Highway Administration, and will be submitted at the time of application for a grading permit. During the construction phase, parking will be provided onsite or on immediately adjoining properties for workers and the project management team. To the extent reasonably possible, NLCS will work to assure that the roadway and other traffic improvements detailed above will be installed in the early stages of the project’s construction to assist traffic flow.
3. To further reduce the amount of vehicle trips, bus or van transportation will be provided for TVPP residents to area locations, including shopping, doctor appointments, and trips to downtown Annapolis; and
4. NLCS has committed to assuring the project does not impede the steady flow of traffic along Spa Road. Planned improvements include a stop sign on the new Skippers Lane road running through the TVPP property where it exits at Spa Road. NLCS has pledged they will not request any other traffic controls in the future at this intersection, such as a traffic light. Given the proposed extension of Skippers Lane to the west as a relief road, there should be no need to seek additional traffic controls on Spa Road.
P & Z has approved these extensive traffic plans and improvements that fully meet our goals and City requirements and we urge the Planning Commission to require these improvements as a condition of approval for TVPP.
FOREST CONSERVATION. The P & Z approved Forest Conservation Plan (FCP) is extensive and resulted in reducing forest clearing to 27.3 acres for TVPP from an originally proposed 40 acres. The FCP assures that 100% of forest cleared will be replaced on site and that 124 acres of forest currently on the site will remain on the property in perpetuity, including reforestation acreage. This is required under the City’s forest conservation ordinance enacted in 2018.
NLCS has committed to and their filings reflect that they fully comply with City and state forest conservation laws and provide for 100% reforestation on site. P & Z and we pushed to lower forest clearing below the originally planned 40 acres and succeeded with forest clearing planned at 27.3 acres. With 97 acres of forest remaining untouched by the project and 27.4 acres to be replanted with native species, including 3.5 acres of street trees, 124 acres of forest that exists currently would remain on the site and be permanently protected. The revised plans also include the planting of 345 landscaping trees throughout TVPP, adding another 3.8 acres of tree canopy to the project. NLCS also will transplant some existing trees on the development site.
These forest conservation measures fully meet our demands and exceed the requirements of any other jurisdiction in Maryland. This is the sixth FCP filing and all prior ones included more deforestation and much less reforestation–the filing in January 2019, for example, proposed clearing 30 acres and replanting none. NLCS complied with P & Z instructions to limit forest clearing and find areas for reforestation and decided to eliminate eight duplexes at the northern most part of the site closest to Forest Drive, thus reducing forest loss and allowing more acreage for replanting, assuring a 125 foot forested buffer along Forest Drive.
Attached you will find the comments of July 19, 2021 from Jim Urban where he concludes “I find that the plans, taken together including existing forest retention, reforestation areas and canopies from proposed street trees appear to meet the goal of “No Net Loss” of forested areas. These plans are sufficient to define the goals for the project.” P & Z is well aware of the expertise Jim has in urban forestry and Tom Smith walked the site with him in August 2020 which resulted in Jim’s detailed comments on improvements needed in the Forest Conservation Plans. These terms have been met and Jim’s attached letter notes his willingness to work with P & Z and NLCS to assure “that construction requirements such as grading, soil and tree specifications will result in the realization of these goals over the period where the planted replacement trees establish form a true forest canopy.” Jim Urban is one of the leaders whose names appears above supporting our position. Jim served for 10 years as Planning Commission Chairman.
P & Z has carefully reviewed and recommended the Forest Conservation Plan for approval after years of back and forth. We believe the FCP fully meets our goals and City requirements and we urge the Planning Commission to approve it as a condition of approval for TVPP.
STORMWATER. NLCS engineers have worked with the City and our expert stormwater engineer Dan O’Leary to assure City requirements and the goals we insisted upon have been met. These new plans would assure that stormwater will be managed so as not to increase the rate, volume, or pollution load of a 25-year storm event (6.27 inches) and meet the City’s 125% of volume ESD containment level, both of which go well beyond state requirements. This is attained through the use of 79 micro-bioretention cells covering 1.2 acres and 62,050 sq. ft. of green roofs, 14,500 sq. ft. of porous pavement for 28 of the single-family cottage driveways, and a 502 foot stream channel restoration, the latter two items not included in the ESD volume reductions.
The use of ESD is exemplified with the use of 79 discrete stormwater bio-retention cells (also known as rain gardens) around the buildings and roads to catch stormwater where it occurs and allow it to settle and percolate naturally into groundwater after being retained and cleansed by nearly 5 feet of mulch, water absorbent planting soil, gravel, and stone. These stormwater cells will be planted with water absorbent native plants. NLCS also has minimized impervious surfaces for its 475 planned parking spaces—280 parking places are underground and another 68 are under buildings. Another 60 spaces are connected to the 30 Cottages with 56 spaces using porous driveways. That leaves only 71 impervious surface parking spaces.
Stormwater management has been enhanced by protecting wetlands and an intermittent stream on the property with a 100 foot buffer. This in in addition to the requirement for a 125 foot forested buffer along Forest Drive.
The plans include restoration of 502 feet of a polluted stream channel that runs under Spa Road across from the Annapolis Middle School and drains 43 acres directly into Crab Creek. The channel has been identified as one of the two greatest sources of stormwater pollution to the creek.
All of our demands for stormwater management have been met and have been verified by Dan O’Leary who I believe is one of the best engineer experts in stormwater management in this country. He has extensive stormwater expertise overseeing stormwater management for the Intercounty Connector and now the Purple Line Light Rail line. His findings filed with the City concluded that:
“In my opinion, the stormwater management plans filed will exceed the 125% of ESDv minimum as required by the City of Annapolis. Additionally, the filing demonstrates that by employing MDE’s RCN Reduction Method to the 25-year storm, by virtue of the ESDv provided, proposed conditions runoff will be lower than for existing conditions and on-site management of the 25-year storm will be achieved. It is my opinion that this means there would be no increase in volume, rate, or pollutant load from current conditions and the goal of post-development stormwater runoff volume being that of a mature forest in good condition would be met.
I have examined several of JBA’s computations for ESD micro-bioretention cells and the computations reviewed check-out correctly. I also have reviewed the Comment Response Letter from JBA to the City dated June 25, 2021, responding to specific issues raised by the City in a comment letter related to stormwater management dated June 29, 2020. The responses from JBA seem reasonable to me and should resolve City concerns regarding stormwater management, of course subject to agreement by the City.”
P & Z and Matt Waters in the Department of Public Works have carefully reviewed the stormwater management plans submitted and approved them after years of back and forth. They fully meet our goals and City requirements and we urge the Planning Commission to approve them as a condition of approval for TVPP.
EXTINGUISHMENT OF FURTHER DEVELOPMENT. The conservation easement and restrictive deed covenants filed by NLCS with their plans before you will eliminate all future development on the 175.6 acre site in perpetuity with the limited exceptions noted below. The documents ensure that the 124 acres of forest on the site now will remain at 124 acres in perpetuity once reforestation for cleared forest occurs. The covenants also ensure that the 15.25 acres of impervious surface at TVPP will never be exceeded.
The Scenic Rivers Land Trust will hold and enforce the terms of the attached conservation easement in perpetuity on 123.1 acres of land to be retained by Janet Richardson Pearson. She will be able to continue operating her equestrian center and grow agricultural products. The only allowances for any new structures would be for a new Wellness House to serve cancer patients and their families, a limited number of barns, stables, and other structures to serve the existing equestrian center capped at 45,000 sq. ft., and several small picnic pavilions and trails. No forest may be cleared for these structures except for the picnic pavilions and trails where trees no larger than 3 inches DBH may be removed with SRLT approval. Any such removal would trigger a requirement for replanting. Ms. Richardson Pearson is to be commended for offering this easement.
For the 52.5 acres comprising the land to be owned by NLCS, NLCS has developed a restrictive deed covenant with our group and the City. The 175.6 acres had to be divided into two separate protective agreements as neither SRLT nor any other land trust would accept a conservation easement on the development site. The attached restrictive deed covenants assure that our demands to permanently extinguish all other development rights on these 52.5 acres in perpetuity will be met. All forest existing after development on this site, including trees to be replanted, will be permanently protected. The restrictive deed covenant is just as effective as the conservation easement and can be enforced by the City and by adjoining property owners as well as by all property owners in Hunt Meadow.
These two documents are the product of two years of effort to develop the language attached that assures our goals of extinguishing in perpetuity all future development of the site while protecting 124 acres of forest are met. All parties have signed off on these documents.
P & Z and the Office of Law have signed off on the terms of the attached conservation easement and restrictive deed covenants and they fully meet our goals and City requirements. We urge the Planning Commission to approve them as a condition of approval for TVPP.
FINAL COMMENTS. In urging approval of the key elements above that resolve the issues leading to our vigorous opposition over nearly a decade, we note that the TVPP project now consists exclusively of a continuing care retirement center for seniors with 302 housing units and 48 health care suites. All retail has been eliminated except for small scale retail sales in the apartment buildings for essentials for residents and their guests and staff. The development would have 216 apartments in the main CCRC building, 28 apartments in each of two Maison Court buildings of four stories each (56 total units), and 30 single family cottages.
As noted, eight duplexes were eliminated. A floor was added to each of the Maison Court buildings to make up for the loss of 16 units. This was done to honor P & Z insistence to reduce the footprint, protect more forest, allow more land for reforestation, and provide for the 125 foot minimum forested buffer along Forest Drive.
Proposals for development of this 175.6 acre site have shrunk significantly since the first plans were filed in 2011. These plans included a massive mixed use development with more than 500 housing units including as many as 130 non-age restricted units, a shopping center with a large food store and many other retail operations, an 80-room hotel, and a cultural arts center. About 40 acres of forest would have been destroyed with little replanting. Here are iterations of the plans over the last decade:
We have reached consensus with NLCS, all owners of the 175.6 acre site, the City, and our leaders on the adoption of the measures noted above in any City approval of TVPP. The inclusion of these conditions as part of Planning Commission approval enables us to withdraw our objections to the proposed development of TVPP. This agreement comes only after a tremendous amount of work to reach this consensus including by the City especially P & Z. Our group has decided to withdraw our objections only after much discussion, analyses, review by our forestry, stormwater, and land use experts, and work with NLCS’ Larry Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw even decided to have his development team, including their engineers, meet with and consult Jim Urban and Dan O’Leary to take advantage of their expertise and assure our goals were achieved. Because we have been working together to resolve our differences and achieve our goals, we believe this project can be a model for sustainable development.
In reaching agreement to withdraw our objections based on the conditions detailed above, we have come to realize that it is more than likely that absent acquisition of the property for a park—for which there has been zero political support given the price tag and unwilling sellers—we believe there would be no better outcome in the future. The 175.6 acres are zoned for development and they are located at a highly desirable location.
The only impediment now is for the Planning Commission to complete its hearings and review and act accordingly. The time has come for the delays to end and for a decision to be made on this project to end this epic 12-year land use battle.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
Gerald W. Winegrad, President
Concerned Citizens for Proper Land Use, inc.