Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ODNA Response to Foundry Station Development Plans

Thanks to those who came out to the McDonalds this past Saturday to review the plans for the re-development of the Seagrams site.  Of the biggest concerns is the proposed density of homes on the property.  ODNA will be attending the Community Input Meeting this evening (Feb 10th) at 6:30pm at the North Point Library to represent the Old Dundalk Neighborhood, but all are encouraged to attend and provide input on this development.

In addition, ODNA has addressed the all of the concerns we have concerning the development to John Vontran in the following letter sent on February 10, 2015:

Mr. John Vontran
Sollers Investors, LLC

RE:      Foundry Station PUD
            7101 Sollers Point Road

Dear Mr. Vontran:

    Old Dundalk Neighborhood Association (O.D.N.A.) received a revised concept plan for the proposed townhouse development on January 30, 2015.  This latest plan proposes 187 townhouses instead of the 194 units originally proposed.

O.D.N.A. made this plan available for review by all interested members on February 7, 2015 in anticipation of the February 10th Community Input Meeting.  While we appreciate your openness during the development process, our members, who live in the immediate vicinity of this project and reviewed the latest plan, still have the following concerns regarding its design and potential effect on the community:

  • The density, while 7 units less than originally shown, still seems excessive in terms of lack of open space, traffic generation, impact on schools, and aesthetics. A reduction of the 187 proposed townhouses to about 160 units would still exceed the 132 units allowed under existing zoning regulations by more than 20%, and would only be a 14% reduction of the current 187 proposed.  Additionally, it would allow reasonable development of the site while better blending with the surrounding houses, most of which are single family detached dwellings (SFDs).  Finally in this regard, this reduction of density would provide more room to meet the County’s road standards and storm water management (SWM) requirements. 

  • While we prefer that all of the units be no less than 20 feet wide, we would be amenable to a mix of unit sizes (including a minority of 16-foot wide units) that meet County requirements and provide more open space while still yielding more lots than allowed by current zoning. Larger, more expensive townhouses could be built to partially offset the loss of the smaller units.  Furthermore, we are requesting of Baltimore County by copy of this letter that they not allow the townhouses to be built in rows longer than typically permitted by the development regulations and to disapprove a layout showing exclusively 16-foot wide dwelling units.

  • According to County comments, the proposed layout does not meet Fire Department standards for turnaround of their emergency vehicles (let alone trash trucks).  This must obviously be rectified in the redesign of the project.

  • The layout also does not meet residential transition area (RTA) standards.  Although not specified on the plan, it is apparent that a waiver to the RTA requirements is being requested given that the townhouses are as close as 40 feet to neighboring SFDs on Tyler Road.  Mitigation must be provided to minimize the impact of the dense townhouse development on those SFD residents.

  • 0.25 acre of open space for a 12.1-acre intensely developed site (i.e. 2% open space) is insufficient.  We acknowledge that the site abuts an existing County ball field complex; however, much more passive open space is needed within the development. Therefore, we will not oppose your waiver request to the active open space requirement; however, we would like to see a total of at least 60,000 square feet (1.38 acres) of passive open space spread across the 12.1 acres. It should be noted that 1.54 acres (67,000 square feet) of passive open space are required by County standards.

  • The community benefit that O.D.N.A. would like this development to provide is the design and construction of Veteran’s Park renovations to deter vagrants and crime and attract desirable merchants to Dundalk Village Shopping Center. We believe the recent market study of Dundalk sponsored by the DRC outlines general objectives and concepts of this renovation.  To the Baltimore County representatives, we do not support any payment to the County of a fee in lieu of community benefit unless there are legal safeguards that the money will be spent exclusively on the aforementioned park renovations or other community benefit that is actually in the immediate community (not elsewhere in greater Dundalk). 

  • SWM has also not been adequately addressed according to Baltimore County’s EPS comments on the concept plan.  It stands to reason that reducing the number of units and impervious area will require less SWM and that more room would be available to provide any SWM facilities required.

In summary, O.D.N.A. welcomes development of the site, but in a manner that is more consistent with the character of the neighborhood.  Specifically, more open space onsite, a mix of townhouse sizes, of which no more than 50% would be 16 feet wide, better traffic circulation, mitigation of impacts to neighboring residential properties, and all public safety requirements fully met.  Moreover, we want a community benefit that directly improves the immediate neighborhood as described above.

Thank you for considering these concerns and comments.  We hope that they are implemented through the design and construction of the site.  If you have any questions regarding these comments, please feel free to contact the Old Dundalk Neighborhood Association.

Sincerely yours,
Glenn Shaffer, Vice President
O.D.N.A.

cc.
Hon. Todd Crandall, Councilman-7th District
Ms. Amy Menzer, Dundalk Renaissance Corporation
Mr. Jan Cook, Permit Approvals & Inspections
Ms. Lynn Lanham, Office of Panning
O.D.N.A Website