Plan­ners sup­port new use of col­lege-owned house

Kent County News - - NEWS - By TRISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­

CHESTERTOWN — Tak­ing what he de­scribed as a “sec­ond bite” at an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate stu­dio art space for fac­ulty mem­bers, Wash­ing­ton Col­lege’s con­struc­tion project man­ager ap­peared be­fore the Chestertown Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Jan. 17 ask­ing for con­di­tional use of a col­lege-owned res­i­dence as office space.

Reid Rau­den­bush made a sim­i­lar plea last May and re­ceived sup­port from the plan­ners, who by unan­i­mous vote made a pos­i­tive rec­om­men­da­tion to the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals that the col­lege be given con­di­tional use for prop­erty at 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave.

The Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals voted 3-0 in Septem­ber to deny the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Rau­den­bush came back last month with an amended plan that capped the re­quest at three years. The other sig­nif­i­cant change is in the group that would use the build­ing — six mem­bers of the col­lege’s In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy depart­ment.

By unan­i­mous vote, the plan­ning com­mis­sion sent the re­vised ap­pli­ca­tion to the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals with a pos­i­tive rec­om­men­da­tion.

The Board of Ap­peals will con­sider the ap­pli­ca­tion at its Feb. 8 meet­ing; the meet­ing be­gins at 4 p.m. and the use of 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave. is the only agenda item.

The orig­i­nal plan was to move a hand­ful of staff mem­bers in the col­lege’s hu­man re­sources office who were work­ing out of the col­lege-owned prop­erty at 500 Wash­ing­ton Ave.

The prop­erty at 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave., which is lo­cated di­rectly across the street from the cam­pus’ front lawn, is zoned R2 sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­den­tial. It in­cludes a twos­tory, 2,000-square-foot build­ing.

Cur­rently the build­ing is un­oc­cu­pied.

Rau­den­bush said he be­lieved that the amended pro­posal ad­dressed the pri­mary con­cerns the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals had last year — park­ing, foot traf­fic and du­ra­tion of the con­di­tional use. In gen­eral he de­scribed the pro­posed new use for the build­ing as less in­ten­sive and told the plan­ners that the IT staff “receive no vis­i­tors at all.”

Cur­rently, they are housed in col­lege-owned prop­erty at 508 Wash­ing­ton Ave., the build­ing be­tween the NAPA Auto Parts store and the Blue Bird Tav­ern.

The plan as rolled out by Rau­den­bush would in­clude re­pur­pos­ing 508 Wash­ing­ton Ave. for fac­ulty stu­dio space. The num­ber of peo­ple us­ing the build­ing would de­crease from six to two.

“We’re very hope­ful in the next three years that we can build our­selves out of this space prob­lem,” Rau­den­bush said.

Con­struc­tion has be­gun on a new boathouse, part of an ex­panded river­front cam­pus that will in­clude an en­vi­ron­men­tal hall that will house the Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­ment & So­ci­ety, as well as of­fer class­room, office and lab space. Also planned is the sec­ond phase of the Cromwell Build­ing at 215 Wash­ing­ton Ave.

The col­lege also is look­ing at buy­ing or leas­ing other prop­er­ties so that af­ter three years the hope is it would no longer need to use 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave. as office space, Rau­den­bush said.

He said space be­came an is­sue in Au­gust 2015 af­ter a four-alarm fire de­stroyed most of a rented build­ing at 515 Wash­ing­ton Ave., dis­plac­ing the col­lege’s busi- ness office and IT staff.

Since then the col­lege has been “hop­scotch­ing them around cam­pus,” Rau­den­bush said.

The col­lege was suc­cess­ful in get­ting the prop­er­ties at 307 and 309 Wash­ing­ton Ave. re­zoned In­sti­tu­tional. Those build­ings now house the en­tire ad­vance­ment staff, “which solved a very big prob­lem for us,” he said.

In an­swer­ing a ques­tion asked by the plan­ning com­mis­sion, Rau­den­bush said some neigh­bors have ob­jected to the non-res­i­den­tial use of the prop­er­ties at 307 and 309 Wash­ing­ton Ave.

Three neigh­bors at­tended the Jan. 17 plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing, but did not speak.

The un­der­ly­ing zon­ing doesn’t change with a con­di­tional use, which means the prop­erty re­mains res­i­den­tial and on the town’s tax rolls.

The col­lege owns the prop­er­ties on both sides of 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave. There is an al­ley in the back, which is ad­ja­cent to the home at 100 E. Cam­pus Ave. that is owned by the Massey fam­ily.

There would be six park­ing spots des­ig­nated for fac­ulty/ staff in the col­lege-owned lot nearby on Brown Street. That lot is by per­mit only, with a stu­dent or fac­ulty hang tag.


Reid Rau­den­bush, con­struc­tion project man­ager for Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, rolls out the plan for 305 Wash­ing­ton Ave. dur­ing the Chestertown Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ing Jan. 17. From left are plan­ning com­mis­sion Chair­man Jeff Grot­sky, Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Kees de Mooy, and com­mis­sion mem­bers David Bow­er­ing and Robert Fordi.

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