Expansion is OK if its impact is understood
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