Questions about Foundry Station townhouse plan persist
An officer of the Old Dundalk Neighborhood Association asked developers if they would consider reducing the number of townhouses from 185 to 160 in the proposed Foundry Station project off Sollers Point Road during a public hearing last Thursday in Towson.
“Our chief concern is the density,” said association Vice President Glenn Shaffer, who suggested the lost revenue could be recovered by replacing some of the 16-foot-wide units with more expensive 20-footwide units.
But the developers said the County Council voted in favor of a resolution to review an application for up to 194 units in a Planned Unit Development for the former Seagram’s distillery site.
“The county approved it .. we think we should be entitled to it,” said Jeff Powers of Powers Homes, a partner in the project with brother Mark Powers and local developer John Vontran.
County employees testified that aspects of the plan have met requirements, and developers presented letters of support from nearby Sonshine Fellowship Church and the Yorkway community, which Vontran and the Powers brothers also developed.
But Shaffer and several other Dundalk residents expressed lingering concerns during the hearing presided over by county Administrative Law Judge John Beverungen.
After nearly five hours of testimony, Beverungen continued the hearing to May 12 to give the county more time to review stormwater calculations submitted by the developers.
Also outstanding is a review by the county’s Landmarks Preservation Commission of the two historical structures on the site, a water tower and a smokestack.
Support for a PUD means that developers can build more units than the underlying zoning allows, provided that the community benefits from the project in some way.
Developers said the main benefit is that the deteriorating warehouses on the long-vacant Seagram’s site, where fires, vandalism and accidents have been recurring problems, will be replaced.
“The property is in need of some sort of transformation,” Mark Powers said.
Short of meeting open space requirements, the developers have also agreed to pay the county a fee of $125,000, and it has also agreed to pay $515 per unit ($95,275), for a total of $220,275.
The money is to be spent on a multi-purpose artificial turf field, lights or related improvements in the local recreation council district.
The PUD plan shows an area of common open space near the smokestack and water tower that also includes a tot lot.
In a March 30 letter presented at the hearing, the CSX railroad noted that even though the developers plan to build a fence, the tracks along the south side of the complex could become “an attractive nuisance” to children.
If the PUD plan is approved, CSX is requesting a 50-foot buffer between the development and the rail right of way and also asking that a fence be built along the property line, according to the letter.
A note on the PUD plan indicates that CSX trains average four trips during a 24 hour period. However, Dundalk resident Wayne Sloboda said that trips will likely increase as the Sparrows Point peninsula redevelops to the south.
Sloboda also noted that although underground sand filters and a holding tank are planned for the western side of the site near Tyler Road, water from the complex will still drain into the county’s antiquated storm drain system.
Russell Donnelly, an environmental analyst from Sparrows Point, noted that the concept plans do not indicate a stream draining east from the site.
He also said there are abandoned wells onsite that could present a hazard. A note on the PUD plan now says that any wells discov- ered during construction will be filled and closed.
The Foundry Station’s PUD development plan calls for 185 three-story townhouses in clusters of six and eight units with no basements, and garages in the rear.
To create a sense of visual variety, the units will feature a range of brick, stone and siding exteriors. The project will be similar to the Towson Green townhouse complex off Burke Avenue in Towson, developers said.
Residents also raised questions about traffic generated by the new residents. Plans show an entrance and exit off Sollers Point Road, which has one lane in either direction, said Peter Muntjan, an artist who at one time leased space in one of the Seagram warehouses.
Because the former industrial site is contaminated, the developers plan to cap most of it with concrete, asphalt, clean fill and geotextile fabrics that help filter and drain the soil.
Muntjan said he believes that asbestos and barrels of toxic waste may be buried on site. A note in the developers’ voluntary cleanup plan submitted to the Maryland Department of the Environment says if asbestos is uncovered during demolition and construction, will be removed and disposed of.
Residents will be responsible for maintaining the cap through a homeowners association, which will also be financially responsible for maintaining the stormwater system, rear alleys and the site’s historic water tower and smokestack.
Shaffer said he is concerned that the HOA will not be able to pay the maintenance costs, which are higher than most townhouse communities because of the cap.
“What if more than seal a crack in the asphalt?” he said. “Twenty years down the road, what is the county going to be left with?
A smokestack and water tower rise into the sky at the former Seagram’s distillery off Sollers Point Road that is proposed for redevelopment as the Foundry Station townhouse community.