Apartments proposed for Historic Stevensville
STEVENSVILLE — A proposal by a property owner that would allow apartments in the town’s historic district has been put on hold.
The property owner, Michael Foster, has proposed a text amendment to the Stevensville Historic Village Center to allow apartments in that district. He filed the request with the Queen Anne’s County government.
It was listed on the agenda of the County Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, for action, but was postponed until a later date. According to Commissioner Jim Moran, the matter was postponed at Foster’s request so he can meet with the residents to discuss his plans.
Foster’s property is 11.35 acres in size and is bound by Cockey Lane, Main Street, and Route 18. The entire property falls in the Stevensville historic district, said Helen Spinelli, county planner. If approved, the text amendment would apply to all properties in the historic district, she said.
Foster, who’s also a lawyer in Stevensville, already met with residents on Monday, Sept. 12, at the Historic Christ Church in the town.
About 45 people attended the two-hour meeting. The residents blasted Foster’s proposal and were primarily worried about how the apartments would affect Stevensville. Only Foster spoke in favor it.
After much discussion, Foster agreed to take the residents’ concerns into account when it comes to “limits” of his proposal and he agreed to delay the hearing for it at the county level.
He emphasized that there’s no actual proposal for apartments, but rather a proposed textual amendment. But he did talk about 25 to 30 units on the property his owns on Cockey Lane, which the text amendment would allow.
There was a rumor that he proposed 220 apartments, but Foster said, “Nobody is asking for 220 units. It’s not even legal.”
When considering the property’s use, he ruled out many types of development, but said he thought a residential use was good for Cockey Lane. “You need more people,” he said.
Foster also refuted pictures one resident passed out. The two pictures on one sheet of paper show a before and after shot of the property. One picture shows a mostly grassy land, and the other a picture of a giant apartment building. “That’s what it’s going to look like,” the resident told people as they gathered for the meeting on Sept. 12.
When asked about the picture, Foster said, “Someone’s not telling you the truth. That’s not what I’m about.”
Nancy Cook, a representative of the Kent Island Heritage Society, which sponsored the meeting, said the residents will be notified and another meeting will be held. Foster said he would postpone the county hearing about it until November.
Foster said he’s in no hurry to build on the property he owns with his wife, Ellen. “We owned it for 31 years. I’m not rushing to do development in any way. I want to do it in a tasteful way,” Foster said.
The discussion at the meeting turned heated. The biggest applause came when Wally Dashiell of Love Point Road said, “I made Stevensville my home. I want to see it grow, not suffocated.”
She questioned if the sewer system can handle the new development, and she worried about the noise from vehicles coming down Cockey Lane.
When the text amendment was proposed, it went before the county’s Planning Commission, which on June 9 recommended the County Commissioners approve it.
The amendment allows up to 20 apartments per acre, but limited to five acres of the proposed development and subject to certain conditions, according to a letter Spinelli sent to the Planning Commission members.
The conditions include the apartment development provide “workforce housing, age-restricted housing, or moderately priced housing,” and the maximum height of the apartment development is 35 feet, said Spinelli’s letter.
Michael Foster, a property owner, speaks before a crowd in Stevensville about a text amendment that allows apartments in the town’s historic district