Ex­pan­sion is OK if its im­pact is un­der­stood

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

My first ex­po­sure to a pub­lic hear­ing at the St. Mary’s County Board of Ap­peals level was the re­cent case to al­low or deny Cur­tis Homes to in­crease den­sity be­yond its stand­ing per­mit.

The real ques­tion to be de­cided is whether Cur­tis should be al­lowed to add 164 homes to the Woods at Myr­tle Point (not what size the el­e­va­tors should be). The an­swer is yes, so long as the im­pact on all of the neigh­bors is un­der­stood and ac­cepted.

That is where the board of ap­peals should fo­cus its at­ten­tion. Home­own­ers of the Woods at Myr­tle Point were over­whelm­ingly in fa­vor of the ex­pan­sion, which seems un­der­stand­able, since they get a ben­e­fit from it. Woods at Myr­tle Point’s neigh­bors get noth­ing but the headaches.

Traf­fic data pre­sented was official, but pretty gen­eral. The real truth is we won’t know what the ac­tual im­pact is un­til the de­vel­op­ment is sold out. Then what? We’re sorry, but the ac­tual trips for some rea­son ex­ceed the norm. The board of ap­peals should be con­cerned about the com­mu­nity as a whole, not just one de­vel­op­ment.

Does it re­ally make sense to say that con­ges­tion on Route 4 is al­ready ter­ri­ble, so mak­ing it worse is OK? As much as I think Cur­tis is try­ing to po­si­tion the de­vel­op­ment for the fu­ture, some­times the tim­ing is off, and ex­pan­sions must be de­layed un­til in­fra­struc­ture is im­proved.

A so­lu­tion that is ac­cept­able to Cur­tis, Woods at Myr­tle Point home­own­ers and neigh­bors in the area is where the board of ap­peals should be headed. It’s a com­plex prob­lem that doesn’t de­serve a rub­ber stamp. Let’s con­tinue the dis­cus­sion on Oct. 12, as sched­uled.

As to my first im­pres­sion, the meet­ing was longer than nec­es­sary be­cause the board seemed to be start­ing from ground zero, caus­ing most of the meet­ing to be a re­run of Cur­tis’ pre­sen­ta­tion to the plan­ning com­mis­sion. When the time came for pub­lic com­ment, many reg­is­tered speak­ers had gone home; one was scratched off the list be­cause he had asked an ear­lier ques­tion; and one cou­ple with a pre­sen­ta­tion was told it was too much in­for­ma­tion and could they wait un­til the end of the meet­ing and use what­ever time was left — which was none.

I look for­ward to a bet­ter meet­ing Oct. 12.

Greg Shields, Cal­i­for­nia

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