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Planning Commission recommends denial of rezoning request

May 07, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Planning Commission Monday voted to recommend that the Washington County Board of Commissioners deny a rezoning request for a 990-unit residential project on 221 acres off Mount Aetna Road across from Black Rock Golf Course.

Commission members cited concerns about the density of the project and the traffic impact on local roads as reasons for their action. The development, which would include condominium units, would not be compatible with the area, members said.

The Washington County Commissioners are not bound to follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

The rezoning request went before the Planning Commission and the County Commissioners at a March 11 public hearing.

Property owner Manny Shaool requested a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning designation for the development on the north side of Mount Aetna Road east of Sasha Boulevard. A PUD typically allows higher-density development on a property than would be allowed under existing zoning.

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The housing development plans call for 217 single-family homes, 70 semi-detached two-family homes, 223 townhouses and 480 condominium units, according to county documents. A representative of Shaool has said the project would be built over a 10- to 15-year period.

After the meeting, Shaool said he hopes the County Commissioners will approve the rezoning request despite the commission's action.

The property is in the county's Urban Growth Area, which is a government-identified area in which development is encouraged.

The proposed condominiums and townhouses would be adjacent to undeveloped farmland, which is just outside the growth area.

Planning Commission member R. Ben Clopper said he would prefer Shaool build single-family homes on the property. Under the existing agricultural zoning, he would be allowed a maximum of 440 single-family homes.

Planning Commission members expressed concern about the project's impact on nearby roads. Members George Anikis and Donald Ardinger said the commission should have been given information about the traffic impact before being asked to take a vote on the rezoning request.

Seventeen people spoke against the request at the March hearing, a county staff report said. Among the issues raised by the opponents were concerns about overcrowding of local schools and increased traffic on local roads.

During the 10-day comment period after the hearing, the county received 39 letters and one petition opposed to the project, county documents said.

The county was presented with a petition, which had about 650 signatures, asking the county to hold an additional public hearing because a traffic impact study was not presented at the March hearing. Signers of the petition said they are concerned the project would result in high traffic volume on local roads, including Robinwood Drive.

Anikis said he could not in good conscience approve the rezoning without a second public hearing. The Planning Commission took no action on the suggestion of an additional public hearing.

County Senior Planner Tim Lung said he can't recall an occasion when a second public hearing was called for discussion of a traffic study.

A traffic study, conducted by a private consultant for Shaool, has been submitted to the county but it is incomplete, Chief Engineer Terry McGee said in a written report.

About 20 people were in the audience at the meeting.

Under the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, developers must provide information showing adequate road, water, sewage and schools capacity before a project can be approved. The developer must contribute toward any needed improvements.

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