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Send PUD projectback for revisions

May 08, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

The Washington County Planning Commission's vote to deny a 990-unit residential project on Mt. Aetna Road is welcome, because it will allow the commissioners to negotiate with the developer for a lower denity and a large contribution to road improvements there.

The project, a Planned Unit Development, was proposed for 221 acres off Mt. Aetna Road across from the Black Rock Golf Course.

If approved as presented, it would have 217 single-family homes, 70 semi-detached two-family homes, 223 townhouses and 480 condominium units. The PUD designation usually grants a higher density than normal zoning, which would allow 440 single-family homes.

The planning commission acted to deny in part because a traffic study submitted by the developer was judged incomplete, according to the county engineer.

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Other factors that should apply to any review include:

- This property may be in the Urban Growth Area, but it's on the edge of that boundary. More important, it's outside any of the Priority Funding Areas Maryland asked the county to designate in 1999, so the state would know where it would be asked to help with grants and other aid.

If the county approves a development of this size outside the sections it told the state it would direct growth to, can it really expect any state help?

- Mt. Aetna Road is a two-lane road that's already crowded. If the developer wants a greater-than-normal density approved, the commissioners should ask him to make major contributions to road improvements.

- The Black Rock Golf Course and a county park are located on this road. If the density of this one project creates gridlock, it would make it difficult for those taxpayers who've paid for these facilities to use them.

Residential construction is picking up now after a long period of slow county growth. As the flood of development comes, the county commissioners have to stand firm and not let it drown those who are already here.

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