In­dian Head ci­ti­zens de­bate ef­fects of pos­si­ble new de­vel­op­ment

Af­fects of pro­posed In­dian Head de­vel­op­ment de­bated

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

The Cook In­let Re­gion Inc. (CIRI) prop­erty own­ers in In­dian Head be­lieve town of­fi­cials made a mis­take by split zon­ing the well-known par­cel of land.

David W. Cook­sey, Soltesz en­gi­neer and de­signer, and Scott Law Group LLC pre­sented a con­cept plan to the plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­bers in 2016 on be­half of the CIRI prop­erty own­ers. On Feb. 15, the Town of In­dian Head Plan­ning Com­mis­sion held a pub­lic hear­ing at the Vil­lage Green Pav­il­ion in or­der to re­ceive pub­lic com­ments about the CIRI prop­erty re­zon­ing amend­ment.

The pro­posed amend­ment would change the zon­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion of par­cel 609 from the cur- rent split zon­ing of onethird open space and two-thirds Town Cen­ter Mixed Use (TCMX) to the en­tire par­cel be­ing re­zoned to TCMX.

“The own­ers are ask­ing for an amend­ment to the zon­ing of ap­prox­i­mately 7 acres of land zoned as open space due to a map­ping er­ror. The own­ers would need to use 2-3 acres of the open space zoned prop­erty for the con­struc­tion of 164 town­homes on the prop­erty, sim­i­lar to that of River­watch Com­mons,” said at­tor­ney Roger Fink with the Scott Law Group LLC.

Soltesz be­lieves the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment would be con­sis­tent with the com­pre­hen­sive plan, as well as the town’s goals and ob­jec­tives for land use, mu­nic­i­pal growth, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, nat­u­ral re­source pro­tec­tion and trans­porta­tion.

“The town of­fi­cials could not tell us as to why that zon­ing was placed on that prop­erty . ... Based on all of the sur­round­ing zon­ing, the TCMX zon­ing should be put in place, which is com­pat­i­ble with what the rest of the prop­erty is in,” Cook­sey said.

Lucinda Stevens, the Town of In­dian Head’s zon­ing and en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tant, said the staff be­lieves the site is suit- able for the pro­posed TCMX de­vel­op­ment.

“We looked at changes in the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bor­hood and we agree that it ap­pears the zon­ing line was drawn in er­ror,” Stevens said. “It is un­usual for pri­vate prop­erty to be zoned as open space. It was most likely made to pro­tect and pre­serve the en­vi­ron­men­tal- ly sen­si­tive ar­eas.”

Plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­ber War­ren Bowie agreed.

He added, “Back in 1988, the CIRI own­ers re­quested that the same par­cel be changed from R1 zon­ing to com­mer­cial zon­ing, say­ing that it was a mis­take in the zon­ing at that time. The plan­ning com­mis­sion and the town coun­cil [at that time] approved that at the own­ers’ re­quest. How many times do we change zon­ing and say it was a mis­take?”

The CIRI rep­re­sen­ta­tives said they had no knowl­edge of the previ- ous zon­ing change from that year.

“His­tor­i­cally, look­ing at the prop­erty, it be­longed to the United States gov- ern­ment,” said Vice May- or Ron Si­toula. “This was govern­ment owned land so I do not be­lieve there was any mis­take or in- con­sis­tency when it was zoned open space at the time.”

Michael Pel­le­grino, chair­man of In­dian Head Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, agreed with Si­toula.

Pel­le­grino said the steep slopes in­cluded in the en- vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive sec­tion of the open space zoned area are also a ma- jor con­cern for him. He be­lieves that the re­zon­ing amend­ment for the CIRI par­cel is not con­sis­tent with the town’s com­pre­hen­sive plan.

Plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­ber Thomas Blake dis­agreed.

“I was not in­clined to ap­prove [the de­vel­op­ment plans] ini­tially. How­ever, I wit­nessed them make the ad­just­ments to it that we wanted. From a busi­ness stand­point it’s metic­u­lous- ly de­tailed and out­lined in ev­ery step they made to pre­serve the land and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. They pointed out that the ini­tial zon­ing was proba- bly an er­ror and I do hope the ad­just­ments will be made,” Blake said.

Sy­bil Mor­ris, a River- watch Com­mons resi- dent, said she came to the pub­lic hear­ing to re­view the plan in its en­tirety but it is very ex­ten­sive. She is cu­ri­ous as to what the com­pany will do if the zon­ing is not changed and the own­ers do not have enough space to build.

Her hus­band, Ti­mothy Mor­ris, said he is wor­ried about the preser­va­tion of wildlife and how the new de­vel­op­ment would af­fect the deer liv­ing in nearby wooded ar­eas.

Jessica Jack­son, a res­i­dent from Vil­lages of Po­tomac at In­dian Head, voiced her con­cerns about the new de­vel­op­ment hav­ing the same ac- cess road — Dr. An­drews Way — as her neigh­bor­hood.

“That is the only ac­cess road for Vil­lages Po­tomac, in ad­di­tion to the school traf­fic,” Jack­son said. “We are also lim­ited with park­ing, and the new de­vel­op­ment may feel en­ti­tled to park in our de­vel­op­ment which would fur­ther limit our park­ing.”

Cook­sey said there will be a sub­stan­tial amount of res­i­den­tial and guest park­ing — 503 park­ing spa­ces in to­tal, in­clud­ing street park­ing.

Sev­eral res­i­dents also ex­pressed con­cern about the TCMX con­cept plan con­sist­ing of mostly res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment, although the new zon­ing is sup­posed to be for com­mer­cial use as well. Res­i­dents ex­plained the town is re­ally suf­fer­ing, so there is a need for more busi­ness in the lo­cal econ­omy.

Fink said the town needs more res­i­dents first in or­der to draw in more com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Stevens, the staff rec­om­mends ap­proval of the re­zon­ing of open space to TCMX with the fol­low­ing con­di­tions: the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive ar­eas are placed in a per­pet­ual con­ser­va­tion ease­ment (in­clud­ing the streams, their buf­fers and steep slopes) to al­low a nat­u­ral buf­fer to re­main along the com­mon prop­erty bound­ary with the Naval Sup­port Fa­cil­ity In­dian Head, and com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­sions for the town’s for­est con­ser­va­tion or­di­nance.

The plan­ning com­mis­sion will leave the record for pub­lic com­ments open for 10 days. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact town hall at 301-743-5511.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

The Cook In­let Re­gion Inc. (CIRI) re­zoned con­cept plans cre­ated by Soltesz en­gi­neer and de­signer David W. Cook­sey; pre­sented at the Town of In­dian Head Plan­ning Com­mis­sion pub­lic hear­ing on Feb. 15.

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