Post - (8/27/2003)
The town’s planning
and zoning commission opened its arms to a
senior housing complex Monday night and
declared a potential townhouse development
At its meeting in the conference room
of the Sleep Inn, the planning panel voted to recommend
conditional approval to a rezoning request that allows
Bollinger Properties LLC to build 48 senior housing units in
the town. However, it then voted to recommend the denial of a
rezoning bid that would have allowed the developers of
Brookfield subdivision to build multi-family dwellings on
about 9.9 acres.
Those unanimous rezoning
recommendations will be passed on to the town’s board of
commissioners when and if their final approval is sought. The
earliest the commissioners could face the requests is October.
At the town’s request, Josh Bollinger
of Bollinger Properties agreed to postpone a decision on his
request to have 20.3 acres of his partnership’s property
annexed. Mayor Jim Hoover said afterward that the town wants
to get a legal opinion related to the matter before making a
decision. The request to rezone 10.8 acres in the Brookfield
subdivision caused the most confusion and drew the most
Part of the confusion was over the
zoning of two parcels totaling 2.8 acres. Town records and
zoning maps show different classification of business zoning
for the tracts, and one allows a broader array of uses than
the other. The other discrepancy was in estimates of the
number of units that could be built at the site. Because of
the presence of a stormwater management pond on the lot, Jim
Gugel, planner for Frederick County, estimated that about 25
townhouses would be the maximum yield.
But Krista McGowan, speaking for RJD
Development Corp., said the company hoped it could build as
many as 52 units on the site. Because engineering work hadn’t
been done, a more precise number wasn’t available.
Ms. McGowan claimed that the
high-density housing would be a "nice buffer" between the
low-density housing in other parts of the Brookfield
development and the commercial district along Emmitsburg’s
Opponents, however, saw little "nice"
about the townhouses. They questioned estimates of the number
of students who would live there and doubted the veracity of
statistics provided by Frederick County Public Schools. They
claim Emmitsburg Elementary is overcrowded even though the
school system’s data said its 17 percent under capacity.
They also asked whether extra water
the town is counting on from a new well is coming from a new
source or drawing from a resource that’s already tapped.
Bill O’Neil Jr. said the town should
stop building for now so quality of life could be ensured for
"We are building and building and
building," he said. "We’ve had development. We’ve done our
Diane Walbrecker attacked the staff
report conclusion that the area around the Brookfield tract
had changed enough to allow the rezoning. She said the area
had changed only because of other rezonings and that the cycle
could continue indefinitely.
"Pretty soon all our neighborhoods are
going to look like this," she said. "It’s time to stop."
Don Briggs, one of the planning
commission members, said the tracts represent the last
undeveloped commercial lots on the rapidly developing west
side of town. He said he thought commercial property is needed
there. Citing uncertainty over how many units can be developed
and the need to retain commercial property on the west side of
town, the commission voted against recommending the rezoning.
Richard Demmit, president of RJD
Development, wouldn’t answer questions about the outcome
immediately after the meeting and didn’t return a phone call
Before the Brookfield decision was
made, the rezoning of Bollinger Properties’ 8.9 acres from
low-density to high-density residential drew mixed response.
Opponents cited traffic and sewer-capacity concerns, while
supporters trumpeted the fact that the development shouldn’t
lead to increased school enrollments.
The approval recommendation came with
conditions attached. Among them are the stipulations that the
development is limited to people age 55 and over and that at
least an emergency access road is to be built from North
Avenue to the complex.
Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town