Apart­ments pro­posed for His­toric Stevensville

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

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.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Michael Fos­ter, a prop­erty owner, speaks be­fore a crowd in Stevensville about a text amend­ment that al­lows apart­ments in the town’s his­toric district

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