Fewer homes pro­posed for re­main­ing St. Charles vil­lages

Pub­lic hear­ing on Docket 90 to ad­dress school al­lo­ca­tions

Maryland Independent - - News - By PAUL LA­GASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @PaulIndyNews

The fi­nal two vil­lages to be de­vel­oped in St. Charles will have over 2,000 fewer homes than orig­i­nally planned should pro­posed re­vi­sions to Docket 90 be ap­proved, the Charles County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion learned Mon­day.

In ad­di­tion, the county has agreed to pro­vide 300 school al­lo­ca­tions to St. Charles as part of a set­tle­ment be­tween Charles County and St. Charles over the mat­ter. In turn, the com­mu­nity will pay the county a “school mit­i­ga­tion fee” of ap­prox­i­mately $4,200 per dwelling.

“The com­mis­sion­ers felt that this was a real push for­ward for this project ... to ac­tu­ally con­tribute greater in terms of fi­nan­cial wel­fare to new school con­struc­tion and im­prove­ments,” as­sis­tant chief of plan­ning John Mudd told the plan­ning com­mis­sion. “Every­body views it as a win-win in that sense.”

The re­vi­sions to the mas­ter plan for Docket 90 — which gov­erns the process for sub­mit­ting and ap­prov­ing de­signs for vil­lages and neigh­bor­hoods to be con­structed in St. Charles — will be shared in more de­tail at a pub­lic hear­ing on Mon­day, Oct. 15.

Last Au­gust, the Len­nar Cor­po­ra­tion pur­chased 2,400 acres of com­mer­cial, in­dus­trial and res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in St. Charles, which rep­re­sented most of the re­main­ing un­de­vel­oped land in the com­mu­nity.

The sale brought to an end lit­i­ga­tion over whether the county com­mis­sion­ers held sole dis­cre­tion over the amount of school al­lo­ca­tions to be awarded to St. Charles.

The St. Charles Com­pa­nies, the pre­vi­ous own­ers of the com­mu­nity’s planned use devel­op­ment, or PUD, had ap­pealed a Jan­uary 2015 rul­ing in Prince Ge­orge’s County Cir­cuit Court that granted the board of county com­mis­sion­ers au­thor­ity over the num­ber of school al­lo­ca­tions.

The St. Charles Com­pa­nies had ar­gued that the com­mu­nity was en­ti­tled to a min­i­mum of 300 school al­lo­ca­tions an­nu­ally.

The Len­nar pur­chase was one of the largest land ac­qui­si­tions in the state in re­cent years and rep­re­sented nearly 40 per­cent of the to­tal acreage in St. Charles.

In ne­go­ti­at­ing the sale, the county had asked for and re­ceived as­sur­ances from Len­nar that it would con­struct 2,500 fewer homes on the newly ac­quired prop­er­ties.

Mudd said that the mas­ter plan for the re­vised Docket 90 also in­cludes sev­eral ad­di­tional “de­tails that got lost over time” such as a re­quire­ment for greater nat­u­ral tree buffer­ing along St. Charles Park­way in the as-yet-un­de­vel­oped vil­lages.

“The mas­ter plan is chock full of good things,” Mudd told the plan­ning com­mis­sion.

Mon­day evening’s plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing also in­cluded a re­view of a con­cep­tual sub­di­vi­sion plan for a ma­jor res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sion on a 16-acre par­cel south of Vi­vian Adams Drive in Wal­dorf.

Elm Street Devel­op­ment is propos­ing to con­struct be­tween 80 and 96 sin­gle-fam­ily town­house lots on the site.

The pro­posed devel­op­ment is only the sec­ond such con­cep­tual plan re­viewed by the plan­ning com­mis­sion.

Fol­low­ing the pas­sage of a law last year by the county com­mis­sion­ers, be­fore de­vel­op­ers can sub­mit pre­lim­i­nary plans of pro­posed sub­di­vi­sions for re­view and ap­proval, they must now first sub­mit a gen­eral “con­cep­tual” plan and in­vite res­i­dents liv­ing ad­ja­cent to the pro­posed devel­op­ment to of­fer com­ments, ques­tions and con­cerns.

No res­i­dents signed up to speak or to ask ques­tions about the devel­op­ment.

Near the end of Mon­day’s brief meet­ing, plan­ning com­mis­sion chair An­gela Sher­ard noted that the board of county com­mis­sion­ers would seek­ing pro­pos­als for is­sues to be in­cluded on the county’s leg­isla­tive agenda for next year’s Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion and in­quired whether the plan­ning com­mis­sion could pro­pose leg­is­la­tion re­lated to af­ford­able hous­ing.

County plan­ning di­rec­tor Ja­son Groth said that due to time con­straints, there may not be enough time for the plan­ning com­mis­sion to meet and dis­cuss leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als prior to the com­mis­sion­ers’ dead­line in early Novem­ber.

“Cer­tainly through this com­ing year, if there are items that the com­mis­sion would like to ex­plore and pos­si­bly pro­pose, that’s cer­tainly some­thing we could con­sider, but in the short time frame I’m not sure we’re pre­pared to do that,” Groth said.

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