A public hearing was held today at 10:15 a.m in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, R. Clayton Mitchell, Jr. Kent County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland, on application submitted by John M. Stoltzfus, representing Stoltzfus Properties, LLC, requesting re-designation of 7.015 acres from the Limited Development Area (LDA) to Intense Development Area (IDA). The subject property is located on the corner of River Road (MD Route 291) and US Route 301 in the First Election District.
County Commissioners Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum, were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, and Thomas Yeager, County Attorney, David Stoltzfus, representing John Stoltzfus, applicant, Kevin Shearon, representing, DMS & Associates, and Joseph Stevens, Esq. representing the Stoltzfus Properties, LLC. Others in attendance included Jack Steinmetz, Economic Development Director, Cindy Genther, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Leigh, Chester River Keeper, Gail Owings, Director of Planning, Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, approximately 5 interested persons and three members of the media
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
Witnesses were sworn in for testimony by the County Attorney.
For the record, correspondence dated November 12 was received from Elizabeth Morris, Chairman, informing that at its November 5 meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed the growth allocation request submitted by Stoltzfus Properties, LLC. The applicant requests growth allocation on its 7.015-acre parcel located on River Road MD (Route 291) and US Route 301, First Election District. The applicant requests that the entire 7.015 acre property be re-designated from Limited Development Area to Intense Development Area. An exemption from the 15% lot coverage limit was also requested. After much discussion, the Planning Commission voted 4:1 to make a favorable recommendation on the growth allocation request, and to grant an exemption from the 15% lot coverage limit. The Planning Commission also recommended several conditions to be considered by the Commissioners, including:
- The exemption from the 15% lot coverage limit should be limited to the 56% lot coverage calculation submitted by the applicant.
- A phasing plan should be submitted.
- Clustering of the site should be required.
- The architecture and design should reflect the character of the Town of Millington.
- The applicant should increase the acreage of afforestation and habitat creation to meet at least the minimum standard. Currently, the applicant does not meet the minimum afforestation standard.
Mr. Stevens stated that the Mr. Stoltzfus seeks to redevelop the seven acre parcel formerly known as the Dutch Deli Restaurant and gas station. He would like for 56% of the impervious surface of the property to be in lot coverage by converting the property from a
Limited Development Area (LDA) to an Intense Development Area (IDA). The current impervious surface lot coverage on the property is 46%. Once the property is approved as an IDA, the project will continue with the site plan and design review with the Planning Commission. The application package submitted for Mr. Stoltzfus was entered into the record as Exhibit #1.
Mr. Shearon reminded that the property is bound to the north by MD Route 291, to the east by US Route 301, to the south by West Edge Road and to the west by Edge Road. There is approximately one half acre subdivided off of the property that is not subject to the growth allocation request at this time. The property is zoned Commercial Critical Area. It has been reviewed by environmental consultants and it has been determined that there are no non-tidal or tidal wetlands on the site. This property is not considered waterfront. The Stoltzfus family is proposing a commercial development comprised of several buildings arranged to break up the monotomy of a single building. In September, a citizen’s participation meeting was held in which citizens voiced concerns regarding the proposed height of the buildings in the project and the proposed rental apartments on the second story of the buildings. Therefore, the project was adjusted to eliminate the second floor and apartments on the building plans. There are currently 12 water and sewer allocations on the property, as it was previously developed. Additional allocations will be purchased if needed and a request has already been submitted to the Water and Wastewater Department. Mr. Shearon informed that although the property is entirely in the critical area, there are no sensitive resources on the site. The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that there are no rare or endangered species on the site. None of the existing impervious surface is currently being treated by stormwater management; however, the development will have a higher amount of impervious coverage and it will all be treated by the Maryland Department of the Environment requirements for low impact developments, which will include infiltration, bio-retention, rain gardens and filtered water before it reaches tidal waters. Additionally, Mr. Stoltzfus owns a separately titled .44 acres residential zoned lot located along US Route 301. This property will be deed restricted and used for afforestation to counterbalance the afforestation requirements. Mr. Shearon presented Exhibits 2, 3 and 4, which included architectural drawings of the property and the proposed design of the project. Mr. Stevens reviewed items Exhibit 1, which were documents submitted to the Planning Commission, including the original submittals submitted in July and responses to the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission recommended that a phasing plan be provided. Mr. Stevens recommended that the applicant be permitted to build the entire project at once. The Planning Commission also requested that the project be clustered; however, the applicant feels there is no further way to cluster the project. Ms. Owings stated that the Planning Commission desired for the project scale to be decreased. She stated that if there were to be clustering on the site, there would have to be a reduction in the scale. In response to questioned raised by the Commissioners, Mr. Shearon informed that the afforestation requirement for the project is one acre. The separate parcel that is proposed for afforestation will take up almost half of the requirement. There will also be pockets of afforestation on the 7.015 acre property. Ms. Owings stated that if the afforestation could occur between US Route 301 and MD Route 291, it would assist with groundwater and stormwater runoff and help to improve the entrance to the county. However, this would require cooperation from the State Highway Administration.
Commissioner Crow expressed concerns related to trucks being able to turn around adequately at the gas station proposed for the project. He suggested that it be considered not to offer diesel. Mr. Stevens noted that there are diesel stations located within short distances north and south of this project. Mr. Shearon informed that the entrance travel lanes have been widened to 30 feet to allow for delivery trucks on the property. However, they have not been widened enough to encourage tractor trailers. Additionally, the orientation of the canopy on the property is situated so that a tractor trailer would be unable to pull up to the diesel pumps.
David Stoltzfus commented that his father, John Stoltzfus, was disappointed that he was unable to attend the public hearing. He stated that this project has hit many roadblocks; however, he asked for the Commissioners’ support for their proposed project.
Mr. Steinmetz expressed the support of the Economic Development Department of the this project.
Ms. Genther stated that the Chamber of Commerce is in support of this project. She added that this area has been identified in the Comprehensive Plan as a growth area for businesses and the added jobs that this project will provide will increase the tax base and help the County’s unemployment rate. She applauded Mr. Stoltfus’ participation in the citizen participant effort; but expressed her concerns as to the removal of apartments from the original plan as a result of the views expressed by neighbors of the property. She stated that this project will include 12-15 new businesses and she encouraged rental opportunities such as proposed in Kent County.
The Commissioners reminded that the removal of the apartments was a voluntary decision by the applicant. Commissioner Crow stated that he is in support of apartments on the property. Commissioner Pickrum also expressed his support of including apartments in the project.
Mr. Leigh expressed concerns related to the potential impact of the increased impervious surface for the project on the watershed and urged the applicants to implement best management practices. Commissioner Fithian reminded that this project is going to improve water quality. Ms. Owings noted that this project will be subject to the new stormwater management requirements, which are more stringent from previous requirements.
Comments will be accepted on this proposed application until Friday, December 18, 2009, at 2:00 p.m.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:49 a.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President