Friday, April 16, 2010

Barksdale Development--04/16/2010

There is a new development being proposed for the corner of Barksdale and Valley Roads. It is actually a thinly veiled attempt to put commercial property into land zoned residential. There is a meeting in Elkton this Monday at noon. I have some random information listed below on this project, and various reasons to oppose it.

Thursday the 15th:

rough draft #1 of testimony

The Barksdale Village proposal should not be approved as Planned Unit Development. It violates the guidelines in many respects.

In Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Tom Hylton, presents Ten Rules for a Quality Community. Number 4 is 'every community should have places for people of all ages and income to live.... To make that possible, every neighborhood should provide a wide range of housing types.'

Barksdale Village includes units with a NARROW range of purchase prices, $180,000 to $250,000.

The PUD rules are violated in many significant areas, one minor, one major, and one gigantic.

The PUD rules call for no more than 12% of the parcel (40% of the 30% total space that is required to be open space) to be wetlands. The proposal contains 5.51 acres of wetlands, or 13%, and therefore violates the PUD rules by 8%.

The PUD rules call for no more than 20% units be Townhouses or Apartments. The proposal includes 44% Townhouses, more than twice the rules, and therefore violates the PUD rules by over 100%.

The PUD rules call for the gross floor area of business establishments not to exceed 10 square feet per dwelling unit. The proposal should therefore include commercial space not to exceed 1,160 square feet. The proposal instead calls for 19,600 square feet, and therefore violates the PUD rules by 1,690%. This is a GROSS violation.

The site report is silent on the wetland requirement violation.

The site report addresses the violation of the townhouse limit. It notes that if the recommended percentages were used, the density would be closer to 2 units per acre, and 'the intent of the PUD would then be contradicted.' This is patently false. If the goal was to meet the intent of the PUD, the proposal would utilize apartments (which would increase the diversity of housing types and affordability), and the proposal would utilize more duplexes (closer to the 30% maximum than the 19% proposed level).

The TAC failed to address the PUD wetland limitation violation, and the commercial space violation. In the TAC's comments on why it chose to not oppose the exclusion based on the townhouse percentage violation, they notes that 'the inclusion of a greater percentage of townhouses is a reasonable approach to maximizing the achievable density of the proposed PUD.' Again I point out that 1) there are other ways to reach the 'achievable density' within the PUD rules, and 2) it is not the TAC's responsibility to maximize the density of a proposal, especially by refusing to administer the PUD rules—that is the project planner's responsibility, a responsibility that was not met.

Further, the intent of a PUD is not to put a few houses around a 19,600 square foot commercial property. The intent is that for a PUD to support a 19,600 commercial property, it would require 1,960 units. Until this proposal includes an additional 1,848 units (and a few more acres), the proposed commercial property should be forbidden.

This proposal fails miserably in following the PUD rules. This proposal should definitely NOT be approved.

Friday the 16th:

The wetlands rules violation is minor. It could weaken our case if we raise it. While someone may wish to raise it, that issue should not a cornerstone of opposition.

The townhouse percentage is a clear violation. However, the most appropriate way to address it is to compel the planner to include a bunch of apartments, and I doubt that this is on the short list of priorities for nearby residents. I therefore suggest that we also NOT focus on this issue.

The 19,600 square foot size of the commercial space should be the cornerstone of opposition. It is more than 16 times larger than the PUD rules call for. PUD includes a provision for commercial space, to save residents the need to drive for some essentials. PUD specifically does NOT envision incorporating commercial space that will have 'outsiders' enter the community--this will increase traffic and PUDs are designed to lessen traffic.

The sixteen times overage is such an outrageous PUD violation that the plan should be stopped in its tracks. This land is zoned residential. The last time that such a large commercial space was proposed, the county rightly shut it down. They are now trying to use PUD to shoehorn the same commercial space into a residential zone. THERE IS NO DEFENSE FOR THIS.

Opposition should relentlessly hammer on the commercial space violation.

1 comment:

Nancy Willing said...

Good job. I just saw that the proposal was denied by the PB.

No doubt the fight is not over.