Hol­ly­wood de­vel­op­ment is put on hold

Hunt says pro­posal won’t move for­ward with­out re­vised traf­fic study

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JA­SON BAB­COCK jbab­cock@somd­news.com

A large com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment pro­posed in Hol­ly­wood can­not ad­vance un­til a re­vised traf­fic study is sub­mit­ted to the St. Mary’s County Depart­ment of Land Use and Growth Man­age­ment, its new di­rec­tor said this week, call­ing the cur­rent im­pact study “in­com­plete and mis­lead­ing.”

The Hol­ly­wood Com­mer­cial Cen­ter, propos­ing 50,200 square feet of com­mer­cial and re­tail space on the cor­ner of Sot­ter­ley Road and Route 235 was de­nied by the St. Mary’s County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion in March last year, but ap­proved by the county’s board of zon­ing ap­peals last Au­gust, and a cir­cuit court de­ci­sion later af­firmed that ap­proval.

But the project won’t get fi­nal ap­provals from the land use and growth man­age­ment depart­ment un­til a re­vised traf­fic im­pact study is sub­mit­ted, said Bill Hunt, who was re­cently pro­moted from in­terim di­rec­tor of land use and growth man­age­ment to the di­rec­tor.

When the Hol­ly­wood Com­mer­cial Cen­ter project came be­fore the plan­ning com­mis­sion, the site plan showed a car deal­er­ship on 8 acres of the 22 par­ent tract, but that was not a part of the for­mal pro­posal.

The 29,969-square-foot car deal­er­ship was sched­uled to be heard by the plan­ning com­mis- sion in April, but land use and growth man­age­ment staff pulled it from the agenda.

“A com­plete traf­fic im­pact study for the en­tire prop­erty was needed,” Hunt said in an in­ter­view this week. “There’s noth­ing for us to re­view un­til we get that traf­fic im­pact study and we haven’t re­ceived it.”

On May 22, Hunt wrote to at­tor­ney Christo­pher Long­more, who rep­re­sents the de­vel­oper

— Hol­ly­wood Part­ners Three Notch LLC.

Hunt wrote that the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion in its re­view of the traf­fic im­pact study be­lieved that there are two sep­a­rate pro­jects on the 22 acres in Hol­ly­wood, as was ini­tially pre­sented to the St. Mary’s County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

“The north­ern por­tion of the site is la­belled ‘Fu­ture by Others’ along with ‘Sep­a­rate Own­er­ship.’ This ex­hibit with the no­ta­tion of ‘Sep­a­rate Own­er­ship’ may ex­plain why SHA thought the site was not un­der sin­gle own­er­ship,” Hunt wrote.

“Had SHA staff known the site was un­der a sin­gle owner, SHA’s pre- ferred ac­cess point would have been f rom [Route] 235 across from the [Hol­ly­wood Vol­un­teer] Fire Depart­ment,” Hunt wrote.

In­stead, the Hol­ly­wood Com­mer­cial Cen­ter’s main en­trance is planned to be off of Sot­ter­ley Road across from the Burch­mart con­ve­nience store and gas sta­tion. This site caused some con­cern from res­i­dents who live in the area.

“The Fe­bru­ary 2016 [traf­fic im­pact study] was not ac­cu­rate be­cause the ac­cess point from [Route] 235 across from the fire depart­ment was not in­cluded. I will not be able to make a find­ing re­gard­ing [ad­e­quate pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties] for the roads that will be im­pacted by the project un­til an ac­cu­rate [traf­fic im­pact study] has been pre­pared and re­viewed by SHA,” Hunt wrote.

Hunt sug­gested that a new traf­fic im­pact study be pre­pared that in­cludes an ac­cess point on Route 235 across from the Hol­ly­wood fire­house.

“Af­ter SHA has ac­cepted, re­viewed and com­mented on a new [traf­fic im­pact study], I will co­or­di­nate with you and your client to re­sub­mit the project to the St. Mary’s County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for its re­view of a re­vised con­cept site plan,” Hunt con­tin­ued.

“If one site is be­ing de­vel­oped by the owner, traf­fic needs to be an­a­lyzed for the en­tire site,” Hunt said. “The county would like all of the in- for­ma­tion to be ob­tained then the county would be able to make a de­ci­sion on the en­trance.”

As it was pro­posed with­out the car deal­er­ship, the Hol­ly­wood Com­mer­cial Cen­ter was ex­pected to gen­er­ate up to 13,000 trips per day.

Long­more replied to Hunt on May 26, say­ing that his client dis­putes the rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by Hunt re­gard­ing the meet­ing with SHA of­fi­cials.

“My client be­lieves that many of the state­ments in your let­ter mis­char­ac­ter­ize the sub­stance of that meet­ing and more im­por­tantly your let­ter omits many por­tions of the dis­cus­sions that were sup­port­ive of my client’s project and ap­pli­ca­tion,” Long­more wrote.

“We be­lieve that my client and its en­gi­neers have sub­mit­ted all of the in­for­ma­tion re­quired for you … to grant fi­nal site plan ap­proval,” Long­more con­tin­ued. “My client is, how­ever, con­sid­er­ing the is­sues you raised in your May 22, 2017, let­ter and we will fol­low up with you fur­ther once my client has de­ter­mined its best course of ac­tion.”

On July 21, Hunt wrote to Cor­ren John­son, dis­trict en­gi­neer for SHA, to let the agency know about the county’s con­cerns.

“The county and other re­view­ing agen­cies must have a site plan for the de­vel­op­ment of the en­tire prop­erty be­fore any ap­proval can be granted,” Hunt wrote. “A traf­fic im­pact study for the en­tire prop­erty must be sub­mit­ted for re­view in con­junc­tion with a com­plete site plan for the en­tire de­vel­op­ment. In my po­si­tion as di­rec­tor I have fi­nal au­thor­ity for ap­prov­ing a ma­jor site plan; I will not con­sider ap­proval with­out a com­plete site plan and a traf­fic im­pact study for the en­tire prop­erty.”

Hunt called the traf­fic im­pact study “in­com­plete and mis­lead­ing” as it “had been pre­pared for only a por­tion of the Hol­ly­wood Com­mer­cial Cen­ter.”

So the en­tire project won’t be mov­ing for­ward un­til a re­vised traf­fic study is sub­mit­ted to land use and growth man­age­ment, Hunt said.

“I have to see it be­fore I say ‘sure this looks good.’ Un­til that’s re­ceived there can’t be any re­view of site plans for the project. They can’t move for­ward with­out site plan ap­proval and they can’t move for­ward with­out a build­ing per­mit,” he said.


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