Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

Planning Commission Minutes
Meeting Minutes
October 25, 2004

Agenda Items:

Following a request by Mr. Tom Carolan of Appletree Homes, Chairman Staiger agreed to change the order of agenda Items with Southgate Subdivision Correction Plat being the first item and the Ordinance to Amend Title 17 Section 17.12.010 Pertaining to the Membership of Emmitsburg Board of Appeals to be the second item.

Southgate Subdivision Correction Plat – Discussion Only

Presentation by Mr. Lucas: Original approvals of the subdivision included Note 3 on the current plat which states: “No houses with basements or split foyers may be constructed on any lots.” Since the time of initial approval, the developer has applied for and received approval from Frederick County for construction of drainage systems which would allow for basements. Mr. Lucas recommended that the current Developer of Southgate prepare and submit revised correction plats for approval where the plat restriction has been removed. This was in view of the fact that the Frederick County has said that the current storm water management plan utilizing individual drains for each home meets their current storm water management regulations.

Commissioner Walbrecker asked Mr. Lucas if the storm drains proposed had been presented before. Mr. Lucas responded that he could not say because that predates his tenure.

Mr. Alan Grumbine of Harris, Smariga, and Associates (the Engineering firm retained by Appletree Homes) approached the podium to address the issue. He stated that since the time of the original approvals in 1995 or 1996 where basements were not allowed, due to soil conditions at the site, Frederick County has changed its specifications to allow for the construction of basements if an approved drainage system is installed around the foundation. Mr. Hogendorp, the developer at the time, “met with Dave Haller and several other people in town proposing to use the county method and it was deemed acceptable.” Therefore foundation drains were added to the improvement plan which was reviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald and the rest of the town and eventually approved.

Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Grumbine “Who approved the change.” Mr. Grumbine responded that the changes were approved by the county and the town and that the foundation drain system was part of the improvement plan that was “signed off on by the Town of Emmitsburg.”

Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Lucas if this represented a change to the site plan?
Mr. Lucas responded, “or the plat approval?” He continued that he believed it could but that, at the time, there were different procedures in effect that are no longer utilize. He stated that it’s conceivable that the issue could have been required to come back before the Planning Commission because it would have been a condition of plat approval but nonetheless the town defers to Frederick County on storm water management decisions. He added that this would certainly have been in keeping with staff policy to require a correction plat so he recommended approval since “we have purposefully decided to give that authority, based on their expertise, to Frederick County.”

Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Lucas that although the the town defers to the county on storm water management decisions should we still not be responsible for correcting plats? Mr. Lucas responded no and recommended the restrictions be removed and new correction plats recorded.

Commissioner Walbrecker stated that she was surprised to see the basements there given the plat restriction. She asked Mr. Henry, who is also the town’s inspector, to address the system.

Mr. Henry reviewed the current status of the foundation drain construction process, changes that were requested, and the involvement of the county.

Mr. Carolan stated that when he bought the project, he knew that the drains were in the part of the public works plan approved by the town and it was part of his commitment to install them. He continued that after talking to Mr. Hogendorp, it appeared that it was an oversight that the plat wasn’t amended. He further pointed out that everyone here [at the meeting] knew it was part of the plan. He stated he was comfortable submitting a correction plat.

Mr. Henry stated he was concerned that homeowners might damage the system by digging in the area. Mr. Carolan responded that information would be provided to the homeowners and that the location of the drainage system would be indicated on the plat provided to homeowners. Mr. Lucas added that a house location survey would be required as part of the permitting process prior to any major construction by the homeowner.

Mr. Briggs commented that he had represented Mr. Hogendorp in the sale of the property to Mr. Carolan. He asked Mr. Lucas if the town would be responsible if the basements leaked. Mr. Lucas responded that the town would not be responsible and that the homeowner was responsible to maintain the system. Mr. Stuart Colvin, head of construction operations for Appletree Homes, stated that sump pumps were also included as backups to the gravity drain system in place around the foundation. Mr. Carolan concurred with Mr. Colvin.

Mr. Briggs noted that construction on certain houses was begun in February and asked when houses could expect to be delivered. Mr. Carolan responded that foundation drains were being completed and power and gas still needed to be turned on but that they were within two to four weeks of settlement. Mr. Briggs followed up, asking if the SWM Pond would be enclosed and street lights would be on line by that time. Mr. Carolan responded that the lights were in process and that the SWM pond has a temporary enclosure. A permanent enclosure would have to await final work on the SWM Pond.

Mr. Briggs noted that two lots yet to be built on have had standing water all summer and commented that implementing a drainage system would be quite a challenge. Mr. Carolan responded that the grade would be raised at the time of construction.

Mr. Hogendorp of Mt. Airy, previous owner of the property, stated that neglecting to change the plat was an accidental oversight (“somebody’s oops”).

Chairman Staiger asked if there were any additional comments from the gallery.

Ms Betsy Forrence questioned the design of the system and how the homeowner was supposed to maintain it.

Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Lucas if a motion would be necessary to require a correction plat. Mr. Lucas responded that he would suggest that. Mr. Lucas stated that copies of the correction plat would need to be submitted by November 1, 2004 to make the November Planning Commission Meeting. Mr. Carolan then inquired on a U&O on the houses about to be completed and if this correction was a prerequisite for the U&O. Mr. Lucas said he could not answer at the current time but that his intention was to poll the Mayor and Board of Commissioners. Mr. Carolan commented that he would cooperate in signing a temporary measure if necessary. Mr. Lucas responded that it is conceivable to issue a temporary U&O subject to submission of a correction plat.

Mr. Briggs commented that he had been called earlier in the day by someone from Harris Smariga inquiring about the agenda item but still felt comfortable voting on the issue.

Chairman Staiger responded that he did not think that this was a conflict, and commented that he had attempted to address the plat issue with Mr. Colvin and Appletree’s Attorney, Mr. Whittenberger, some months ago and was curious why it took this meeting to finally address the issue. Both Mr. Colvin and Mr. Carolan acknowledged that there was an oversight on their part. Mr. Carolan stated that he was not opposed to the requested change and it would have been addressed had he known about it previously.

Mr. Briggs commented that he walks the site and meets owners who are dying to move in and asked how we can move this process along in order to bring these people to Emmitsburg.

Commissioner Walbrecker requested that approvals from Frederick County be attached to the minutes since they were not available at this meeting. Mr. Lucas responded that the town was in possession of a signed set of improvement plans which show the drains. Commissioner Walbrecker asked that they be attached to the minutes. Mr. Lucas responded, “Yes.”

Motion: by Chairman Staiger and seconded by Commissioner Walbrecker to require Southgate Development/Appletree Homes to provide a correction plat removing the no basements or split foyer restriction within the next 30 days.

Vote: Approved 5-0

Ordinance to Amend Title 17 Section 17.12.010 Pertaining to the Membership of Emmitsburg Board of Appeals – Recommendation to the Mayor and Board of Commissioners.

Staff Presentation: Mr. Lucas reviewed the changes proposed to Section 17, noting the potential conflict of interest which could arise due to a Commissioner serving on both the Town Council and the Board of Appeals. Mr. Lucas recommended a positive recommendation and noted that this change would require the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission since it was part of the Zoning Ordinance.

Commissioner Walbrecker commented that separate legal council was not included in the code and asked if this was a matter of policy. Mr. Lucas responded that separate legal counsel was a matter of policy. Commissioner Walbrecker stated that based on her experience on the Town Council and with BOA appeals, she supported this proposal.

Mr. Briggs asked Commissioner Walbrecker if a similar change was coming to the Planning Commission also. Commissioner Walbrecker responded that this would probably not be the case because the Planning and Zoning Commission cannot override the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Lucas added that State Law requires that one member of the Town Council serve on the Planning Commission.

Motion: by Commissioner Walbrecker and seconded by Mr. Henry to provide a positive recommendation to the Mayor and Board of Commissioners on the proposed change as submitted.

Vote: Approved 5-0

Non-Agenda Item:

1998 Comprehensive Plan Update

Commissioner Walbrecker distributed a potential handout/brochure (concerning the Comprehensive review process and why the public should be involved) to the other members of the Commission. She noted that a portion was a modification of information submitted to her by Catherine Forrence (President of COPE, Inc,). Commissioner Walbrecker reviewed the document, noting at one point a reference that the Town’s Ordinances were not updated to be in accordance with the current Comp Plan – but they will be this time. Commissioner Walbrecker also stated that she hoped the current Comprehensive Plan would soon be up on the Website. She said that this would be something to handout as Commission members begin to meet with organizations throughout town to help explain what the Commission is trying to do and why it matters.

Mr. Lucas stated he had some concerns about the statement that changes would be made to the Town’s ordinances in order to comply with the Comprehensive Plan. He commented that although such changes could be proposed, the final power of approval rested with the Mayor and Board of Commissioners.

There was some discussion between Commissioner Walbrecker and Mr. Lucas over the process of such an update and the potential legal requirements of state law in regard to implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Lucas felt this might be an issue to be addressed by the Town’s attorney.

Chairman Staiger suggested that the commission members take the document and review it for approval at the next meeting. Commissioner Walbrecker requested that the commission move a little faster than the next meeting. Chairman Staiger asked that commission members get back to Commissioner Walbrecker as soon as possible with any suggestions. He stated that he did not feel the document required an official motion of approval. Mr. Lucas responded that he would be more comfortable with a formal discussion, consensus, and approval. Commissioner Walbrecker stated that she would take charge of securing approval from Commission members since she would like to begin the process of meeting with public groups before it was too deep into the Holidays. Chairman Staiger responded that Commission members will make an effort to do so.

Chairman Staiger stated his intention to prepare a revised text of Chapters 1-4 and 8 for review at the next meeting.

Chairman Staiger asked if there were any additional comments on the Comprehensive Plan review Process. There were none.

Chairman Staiger asked if there were any additional general comments.

Mr. Lucas reviewed a number of administrative issues leading to a delay in availability of materials for the evening’s meeting. He restated his commitment to having agenda items on the website two weeks in advance.

Chairman Staiger requested consideration of any items for the November Meeting Agenda.

Mr. Lucas requested potential addition of an item to address a discrepancy in allowable sign size between the sign ordinance and the zoning code.

Commissioner Walbrecker said that at some point she would like to address the parking requirements for home based businesses but that this could wait till the New Year

Chairman Staiger asked that continuing review of the Comprehensive Plan be added.

Chairman Staiger asked if there was any Public Comment. There was none.