New Monrovia Town Center Hearings Start on Wednesday, March 19

The next round of public hearings on the Monrovia Town Center Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposal is almost upon us. On Wednesday, March 19, the Planning Commission will begin a new set of hearings at 6pm in Winchester Hall. You need to sign up that night, in order to speak during the 3-day hearing process.

Click here to find the new documents at the County’s website.:



In the middle of that page, you will find links to the following:


Revised Concept plan (a new graphic)
• Revised Staff report for the rezoning request
• New Staff report for the DRRA
• New draft DRRA

If you are concerned about this development, and the impact that it will have on the County, then I hope you will try to find time to look at these documents.

Revised Monrovia Town Center Concept (with circles added).

Revised Monrovia Town Center Concept (with circles added).

This new round of hearings is the result of changes made to the proposal by Blaine Young in the midst of prior public hearings before the Board of County Commissioners last January. In fact, many felt that the changes had been negotiated weeks prior to those hearings – as evidenced by the well-prepared talking points by Commissioner Paul Smith that night – leading many to wonder about the purpose of having the public spend many hours testifying about a then out-of-date plan. Setting that thought aside, what changed?

First, the number of homes has changed from 1,510 to 1,250. When combined with the Landsdale development, that means a mere 10% reduction in this massive new development about to overcome Monrovia.

Second, the developer will no longer be able to build 4-story “2 over 2” units. If you are not familiar with this type of building, examples can be found in Urbana along MD 80 near the new elementary school. This is a positive change to the development. Of course, the County had originally insisted that the developer include these type of buildings, so it doesn’t seem like much of a hardship that the County is now telling them not to include them.

Third, the community will consist of 50% age-restricted homes. This was an interesting change and harkens back to an earlier proposal for the land being entirely age-restricted. This will also certainly generate much discussion about what constitutes “age-restricted,” how it will be enforced, and whether – such as in other age-restricted communities in Frederick County – school age children will still be present. This last point is particularly relevant since the developer will no longer have to contribute money for schools for half of the homes they build.

Fourth, the community will consist of at least 70% single family homes, with the remainder as townhomes.

Fifth, the “collector road” spanning from Ed McLain across MD 75 to the eastern half of the development will no longer exit onto Weller Rd. This was a source of great concern to the community given the poor condition of Weller Rd. However, County Staff have since commented that the proposed high school and public use sites on the eastern side of the development should still connect to Weller, so this point is no longer clear.

Sixth, the Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) has been scaled back from 25 years to 18 years. We had argued that the 25 year term far exceeded both their development plan and the documents that supported it. We still strongly believe that 18 years is far too long to contractually bind the County.

These are the major changes to the development but there are also a few more subtle changes that I want to describe, along with the reasons for the changes:

powerline1) The PUD request no longer includes any of the land east of the power line. They still plan on proffering that land to the County, frankly as a worthless high school site. [Note – I’ll have more to say in another column about our concerns over building a high school along a 3,200 foot frontage to 500 kV power lines] Why did they change? The reason is that we pointed out that they were in violation of their own regulations by including those non-contiguous parcels. We argued this point at the hearings. The developer’s attorney responded saying that it was a “non-issue” and that it had been dealt with years ago. When we appealed the point, the County argued that we didn’t even have the right to ask the question! And yet here we are – they removed that land specifically because of the contiguity issue.

2) The PUD request also no longer contains the small parcel at the end of the dragstrip. This may be no more than a moral victory for us, but again, we caught them ignoring the regulations. Both the County and developer were content with ignoring the fact that the parcel did NOT have the required water & sewer planning designation. We argued that point last January. County staff was incredible – they literally changed the map on their own, ignoring established, legal requirements that involve State review, and tried to make the map into what the developer needed.

MTCfarm

Again and again, the County and developer – hand in hand – have bent and broken the ordinances and regulations that are supposed to guide land development in Frederick County. The ordinance required a community meeting back in the summer of 2012 – before the development application. However, the County doesn’t define what that meeting should be, and doesn’t verify that it takes place. As a result, last October the developer told us that he met with “a couple people because that’s all he needed” and then in January his attorneys seemingly concocted a story about meeting with 20-30 people … in a tool shed.

The County and developer are counting on the residents to be tired of the process. They are confidently expecting to be finished with the zoning question on the first night of hearings before the Planning Commission so that they can begin the DRRA question on night two. Many hundreds of residents showed their concern about this development last October, November, and January by attending those public hearings. It is imperative that you do so again. We are now in an election season and each and every member of the Board of County Commissioners, and several members of the Planning Commission are seeking new public office. They are very sensitive to the public perception of their actions now. If you are reading these words, please attend the public hearing on March 19th. Sign up to speak and then voice your concerns. Tell them you care … and tell them you vote!

MTChearingsgraphic


More information

RALE – Residents Against Landsdale Expansion on the web.

RALE – Residents Against Landsdale Expansion on Facebook.

@RALEMonrovia on Twitter.

Some of the Frederick News Post coverage about and since the Planning Commission hearings:

Monrovia project opponents scrutinize Young’s campaign donations
Frederick News Post
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A missing balance
FNP column by Fred Ugast
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Proposed Monrovia Town Center draws crowds to county hearing
Frederick News Post
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Maryland planning official says state not responsible for town center density
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dozens speak out on Monrovia Town Center
Frederick News Post
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Development and death in Monrovia
Frederick News Post
Friday, November 8, 2013 2:00 am

Proud of citizen involvement
FNP Letter to the Editor by Jan Gardner
Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monrovia residents say impact fee elimination would be developer boon
Frederick News Post
Sunday, November 17, 2013

Commission votes favorably on Monrovia Town Center rezoning
Frederick News Post
Thursday, November 21, 2013

RALE: Town center study underestimates increased traffic
Frederick News Post
Thursday, November 28, 2013

Traffic study’s flaws need addressing
FNP Editorial
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It pays to pay attention to local government
FNP Letter to the Editor
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Development burden
FNP Editorial
Saturday, December 7, 2013

Monrovia Town Center hearings begin tonight
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hundreds show up at Monrovia Town Center hearing
Frederick News Post
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Monrovia Town Center: Round 2
Residents voice concerns during second hearing with county
Frederick News Post
Thursday, January 16, 2014

Scaled-back Monrovia Town Center passes commissioners
Frederick News Post
Friday, January 17, 2014

Not impartial
FNP Letter to the Editor
Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blaine Young’s full transparency
FNP Editorial
Monday, January 20, 2014

Frederick County’s one-man band
FNP column by Bill Pritchard
Sunday, January 26, 2014

Surprise! Surprise!
FNP Letter to the Editor by William Bugg
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Monrovia Town Center developer meets with public
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Location and extent of the proposed Monrovia Town Center. Click on the image to open a larger version.

Location and extent of the proposed Monrovia Town Center. Click on the image to open a larger version.