La Plata council approves land annex for townhomes
Company looking to build 22-home development
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.”