La Plata coun­cil ap­proves land an­nex for town­homes

Com­pany look­ing to build 22-home devel­op­ment

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Char­lieIndyNews

The La Plata Town Coun­cil on Tues­day heard a pe­ti­tion re­gard­ing the an­nex­a­tion of a small land par­cel in­tended for a town­home devel­op­ment.

Mal­lards Pond LLC, rep­re­sented by Steve Scott of Scott Law Group, seeks to build 22 town­homes on a plot just out­side the prop­erty borders of La Plata. The com­pany sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion for the Town­homes of Po­tomac Square to the pre­vi­ous town coun­cil and is now re­sub­mit­ting the re­quest to its cur­rent mem­bers with a few pro­posed changes.

The 2.89-acre par­cel is lo­cated at the end of Ch­e­sa­peake Street and is sand­wiched be­tween plots that are in­side the town’s perime­ter.

“This is in an area that can be served by in­fra­struc­ture, by wa­ter and sewer, once it’s an­nexed in to the town,” Scott said. “It’s within the town’s com­pre­hen­sive land-use plan, so it’s some­thing the town en­vi­sions, at some point, could be brought within the town lim­its.”

Scott ex­plained sev­eral res­i­dents in the area were ret­i­cent to ac­cept the plan for ad­di­tional hous­ing, but the two home­own­ers near­est the par­cel in ques­tion were not op­posed to the an­nex­a­tion.

Mal­lards Pond is ask­ing for a pair of changes to their pe­ti­tion: one con­cern­ing zon­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion, and the other re­gard­ing trans­porta­tion con­sid­er­a­tions.

The prop­erty is cur­rently zoned as Ru­ral Res­i­den­tial (RR), but the group would like that changed to R-3 zon­ing. The RR des­ig­na­tion typ­i­cally spec­i­fies one unit per acre, a ra­tio un­fit for the plan to build nearly two dozen homes on less than 3 acres. Scott said R-3 zon­ing would be more suit­able for this den­sity, although the group would need con­sent from Charles County com­mis­sion­ers.

The Trans­porta­tion Con­sid­er­a­tions por­tion of the an­nex­a­tion re­quires Mal­lards Pond to “in­stall a public side­walk along the east­ern prop­erty line of the MP Par­cel ex­tend­ing from Ch­e­sa­peake Street to Scrog­gins Street.” The or­ga­ni­za­tion would like this re­quire­ment to be less­ened to sim­ply re­pair­ing the side­walks in lieu of a com­plete re­con­struc­tion, Scott said.

De­spite the rel­a­tively small size of the devel­op­ment, con­cerns were raised about the ne­ces­sity of ad­di­tional homes.

“What’s the de­mand for town­homes in our town?” asked Coun­cil­woman Emily Mudd Hen­dricks. “We have Ede­len Sta­tion that has empty units. We have Agri­copia which has town­homes. What’s the ben­e­fit in adding town­homes?”

Scott pointed to the nov­elty of high-den­sity hous­ing in the area, an is­sue re­lated to the de­sired zon­ing al­ter­ation.

“Other than in St. Charles, there is not a lot of places in Charles County as a whole to build these kind of homes,” Scott said.

The meet­ing with the coun­cil is just the be­gin­ning of the process for Scott and Mal­lards Pond, as the pe­ti­tion will be dis­cussed by the La Plata plan­ning com­mis­sion and in public hear­ings through­out the com­ing months. It will un­dergo sev­eral steps of the an­nex­a­tion pro­ce­dure be­fore the mat­ter even comes be­fore the coun­cil again.

“First is the an­nex­a­tion, the phys­i­cal pact of bring­ing the prop­erty into the town,” said town man­ager Daniel Mears. “There is also the adop­tion of an an­nex­a­tion plan, that’s a re­quire­ment of the state . ... The third [step] in terms of the town coun­cil is the an­nex­a­tion agree­ment, and that cov­ers things that are de­sired from the town’s stand­point.”

“There is a lot of no­tice that need to go out,” Mears said. “From our stand­point, we have to pro­vide no­tice not only to the prop­erty own­ers, but the town no­tice to the state [and] public hear­ing no­tices.”

Fur­ther dis­cus­sion is in the works for the an­nex­a­tion of the Ch­e­sa­peake Street par­cel. Scott noted the in­for­mal­ity of Tues­day’s meet­ing, adding there will be a “more pol­ished dis­cus­sion at the public hear­ings.”

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