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Good reasons to vote 'no' on Mount Aetna Road PUD

June 18, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

Sometime during their meeting today the Washington County Commissioners will discuss whether to accept or reject plans for a 990-unit residential development across from the Black Rock Golf Course. We hope they reject it, because there are good reasons for doing so.

The project would be a Planned Unit Development, which is a zoning classification which allows a greater density in exchange for the developer's agreement to work with local government on certain items, like the development's design and the use of open space.

In this case, if the development is approved as submitted, it would have 217 single family homes, 70 duplexes, 223 townhouses and 480 condominiums, all of which the developer says would be built over a 10- to 15-year time span.

The Planning Commission has recommended against approval, saying that the number and type of units would not be compatible with the area and that the project would increase traffic on local roads.

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That would include the main road serving the development, Mount Aetna Road, which is a two-lane road with no shoulder for much of its length.

The development is in the Urban Growth Area, but only because the update of the county's Comprehensive Plan included it in. Even with the redrawn lines, it's right on the edge of the UGA.

However, the property is outside the State of Maryland's Priority Funding Area. Counties indicate to the state where they would like growth to go, and if the state approves, it makes the property eligible for state-funded help with infrastructure.

The county has not designated this development to be within a PFA, meaning that no state help would be available for the amenities it will require.

If the commissioners reject this, the developer would have to wait a year before applying again. During that time, the developer can consider a development with fewer units and greater contribution to the county's infrastructure. To give the developer time to rethink this project, the commissioners should vote "no."

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