Four Sea­sons hear­ing to be con­tin­ued Aug. 10

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Board of Ap­peals ex­tended its hear­ing for a third night re­gard­ing the pre­vi­ous ap­proval of phase one site plans for the pro­posed Four Sea­sons devel­op­ment on Kent Is­land dur­ing its Thurs­day, July 21, meet­ing. The devel­op­ment is pro­posed to be built by K. Hov­na­nian but is cur­rently be­ing ap­pealed by the Queen Anne’s Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion and cit­i­zens Robert and Carolyn Fo­ley and James and Karen Wim­satt.

Af­ter eight hours of lis­ten­ing to ar­gu­ments for and against the 1,100-plus home age-re­stricted com­mu­nity along Cas­tle Ma­rina and Ben­ton Roads in Ch­ester, the board ex­tended the meet­ing to Wed­nes­day, Aug. 10, at the new county of­fice build­ing at 110 Vincit St., Centreville. The meet­ing will be­gin at 5 p.m. and will start with pub­lic com­ment.

The board has lim­ited pub­lic com­ment to those who signed up to speak dur­ing the July 13 and July 21 meet­ings. Af­ter pub­lic com­ment is heard, Joseph Stevens, at­tor­ney for K. Hov­na­nian, will have a chance for re­but­tal of pre­vi­ous wit­nesses. The meet­ing will fin­ish with clos­ing ar­gu­ments from Stevens and Jesse Ham­mock, at­tor­ney for the ap­pel­lants.

Fin­ish­ing up K. Hov­na­nian’s case from the July 13 car­ry­over, Katherine Falk, a pro­fes­sional traf­fic en­gi­neer with Kim­ley Horn, be­gan the night of tes­ti­mony. Falk was part of the group hired by the county as a con­sul­tant to re­view a traf­fic study pre­vi­ously com­pleted by Traf­fic Con­cepts. Horn agreed with the study and said the devel­op­ment would not cre­ate a sub­stan­tial traf­fic in­crease.

Joe Mehra, a wit­ness for the ap­pel­lants and founder of MCV As­so­ciates Inc., said the 2015 study didn’t ac­cu­rately as­sess the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion be­cause the study was done June 16, which was a half-day of school. Counts taken this year, fol­lowed a Jan­uary snow­storm, he said.

Mehra said counts should not be taken on half-days, hol­i­days and bad weather days be­cause the counter wants to cap­ture traf­fic on a typ­i­cal day. Mehra, ref­er­enc­ing statis­tics from the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said traf­fic is in­creas­ing on Kent Is­land.

Mehra said the en­tire traf­fic study should be re­done “to con­firm the va­lid­ity of the re­sults be­cause based on what’s out there now in the re­port you can­not re­ally rely on the re­sults.”

Barry Grif­fith, pres­i­dent of Lane En­gi­neer­ing, tes­ti­fied the site is com­pat­i­ble with the ex­ist­ing area.

By def­i­ni­tion, Grif­fith said, com­pat­i­bil­ity “im­plies the dif­fer­ent land uses can co­ex­ist with­out con­flict pro­vided they are de­signed to work well to­gether and not have overly neg­a­tive or ad­verse ef­fects on one an­other” and is the “ba­sic premise sup­port­ing the plan­ning con­cept of mixed-use devel­op­ment.”

Look­ing at com­mu­ni­ties such as Cas­tle Ma­rina, Gib­son’s Grant, Red Ap­ple Prom­e­nade and Queens Land­ing, Grif­fith said, from a plan­ning view, the Four Sea­sons project is com­pletely com­pat­i­ble with the sur­round­ing area.

Jeff Hal­pren, prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect at Hal­pren Ar­chi­tects in An­napo­lis, who tes­ti­fied for the ap­pel­lants, dis­agreed. He said the site de­signs in phase one are not com­pat­i­ble with the sur­round­ing area.

When you talk about com­pat­i­bil­ity it’s very of­ten talked about in very gen­eral terms in terms of den­si­ties and things like that,” Hal­pren said. “But when you re­ally come down to look ... it’s a much more fine grain thing than that.”

Hal­pren said com­pat­i­bil­ity con­sists of build­ings’ edges meet­ing the edges of other struc­tures, look­ing at the scale, rhythm and pro­por­tions of the sur­round­ing build­ings. He said it’s not just the build­ing use or type that is taken into ac­count.

Talk­ing about the sin­gle ar­ray of build­ings pro­posed for phase one, which in­cludes four build­ings side-by-side in a line, Hal­pren said though the prop­erty has a pro­posed tree buf­fer to di­vide the Four Sea­sons prop­erty and the neigh­bor­hood next to it, that tree line be­comes a wall. Hal­pren said if some­one were to look at the ex­ist­ing neigh­bor­hood from the buf­fer line they would see a house, a space, a house and a space — a “stac­cato” with open­ings that gives a sense of con­text.

Look­ing the other way at what is be­ing pro­posed by K. Hov­na­nian, Hal­pren said, some­one would see wide units go­ing onto nar­row sites. “When you do that you cre­ate some­thing that vis­ually reads as a wall. It no longer reads as a series of sep­a­rate, free-stand­ing struc­tures. There’s no longer this sense of ven­ti­la­tion,” Hal­pren said.

Diane Cameron, di­rec­tor of the con­ser­va­tion pro­gram at Audubon Nat­u­ral­ist So­ci­ety, tes­ti­fied about the pro­posed stormwa­ter man­age­ment sys­tem. She said the en­vi­ron­men­tal site de­sign does not fully meet the max­i­mum ex­tent prac­ti­ca­ble be­cause the de­signer has not “ex­hausted” its op­tions in de­sign.

Cameron said ESD is a way of “de­sign­ing the built en­vi­ron­ment so it’s in har­mony and uses the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment to man­age­ment the stormwa­ter – specif­i­cally wood­lands, wet­lands, the to­pog­ra­phy of the site, the ex­ist­ing soils.”

Though the site has ESD ele­ments like ponds, Cameron rec­om­mended ex­pand­ing the site’s 45 per­cent open space to 60 per­cent to have “am­ple nat­u­ral area.” She also sug­gested “ro­bust” for­est re­gen­er­a­tion and soil en­hance­ments. Cameron also rec­om­mended ex­pand­ing the four acres of planned for­est con­ser­va­tion to 40 acres.

Two en­hance­ments that could be made to the pro­posed stormwa­ter ponds, she said, would be to add a veg­e­ta­tive bench and to add float­ing “is­lands of plants” in the ponds to re­move more pol­lu­tants.

When tes­ti­mony ended af­ter seven hours, the board ac­cepted com­ments from cit­i­zens who re­mained. Cit­i­zens op­posed to the devel­op­ment said they were con­cerned about an in­crease in traf­fic and how that would af­fect the pub­lic’s safety and wel­fare, en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, ex­pected sea level rise of Kent Is­land in the next 50 years, if the site de­sign meets the Stevensville and Ch­ester Com­mu­nity Plan, and the num­ber of homes pro­posed.

Speak­ing in fa­vor of the project, two K. Hov­na­nian em­ploy­ees, one a ma­te­ri­als sup­plier and the other a sales­woman, said it is a good com­pany that builds qual­ity homes and they both of them want to even­tu­ally live in the devel­op­ment. Peo­ple said that traf­fic is al­ready bad on Kent Is­land, but that it didn’t stop peo­ple from mov­ing to here in the past. One per­son in fa­vor of the project said the de­vel­oper has got­ten all the nec­es­sary per­mits and ap­provals but hasn’t been able to put a shovel in the ground.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

The Queen Anne’s County Board of Ap­peals lis­tened to ar­gu­ments from at­tor­neys Joseph Stevens, mid­dle fac­ing the board, and Jesse Ham­mock, far right fac­ing the board, re­gard­ing the pre­vi­ous ap­proval of phase one site plans for the pro­posed Four Sea­sons devel­op­ment on Kent Is­land. The meet­ing was held on Thurs­day, July 21, in Centreville.

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