The Town of Walkersville’s Planning Commission met on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. The meeting covered several subjects after minutes from three previous meetings were approved.
The commission held a public hearing on Ordinance 2014-02 Minimum Lot Size – Mixed Use Lots in Old Town Mixed Use District. As reported earlier this week, this ordinance only effected one property, the Walkersville Market building on Maple Avenue. After a presentation by planning staff and the owner of the property, Planning Commissioner Dick Brady introduced a list of concerns with the ordinance’s failure to address set-backs and lot width requirements that would still make the property non-conforming. After some debate, the commission voted to defer action on the ordinance. The Planning Commission will discuss the various issues raised at a workshop on June 10th and hold a public hearing on June 24th.
The Staley Family presented a site plan for The Glades, a condominium development proposed on Glade Road. The Planning Commission had quite a few concerns with the plan. The site plan proposed a playground in the rear corner next to the Allegheny Power sub-station. Commissioners asked that any playground be moved to the front or middle of the property where it can be supervised by the residents and police.
The lack of landscaping along the rear of the property caused some concern. The rear of the property borders another lot owned by the Staley Family that is zoned Light Industrial. Planning Commission members pointed out that there needs to be a buffer. Mr. Michael Staley, owner of the property, indicated his desire to have the Light Industrial lot rezoned to Residential in the near future. The Commission members responded that they must make rulings on the property and plan as presented and zoned today.
Commission members had concerns about the location of a storm drain running under planned garages and some of the swales for catching run-off. The storm water management seemed to be of intense interest to commissioners. The engineer for the developer indicated that the plan had been approved by Frederick County.
The Planning Commission conditionally approved the site plan as long as the developer makes the requested changes.
Andrew Brown of J. F. Brown III & Associates, Inc. presented a preliminary plan for Parkside, a development planned for Biggs Ford Road. The owners of the property and their representatives wanted to hear comments from the Planning Commission. The developers proposed streets nine feet narrower than required by the Town of Walkersville Design Manual.
They also proposed “open section” streets rather than “closed section” streets. The streets proposed would have no curb or gutter, but a ditch along the front property lines to catch run-off and slowly release it into the soil. Commissioner David Ennis took great issue with this plan by pointing out the geology of Walkersville does not lend itself to this design even though it is preferable environmentally in most cases. Commissioner Ennis explained that this open section street design could cause sink holes. Mr. Tom Posts, Jr. represented the developer and offered to pay for a study to support their use of open section streets. The Planning Commission indicated that such a study would be a waste of time, and Commissioner Ennis indicated that his view on this is concrete solid.
The developers and Planning Commission discussed the plans to build a walking path from Biggs Ford Road along the creek to Walkersville Community Park and the possibility of upgrading features along Biggs Ford Road including a sidewalk. Developers had many problems with upgrading Biggs Ford Road, and putting a sidewalk running east of their proposed entrance as the sidewalk would lead nowhere; Hercules Iron Works has no sidewalk and the path is dangerous. Ms. Patricia Graham, owner of the property, discussed the speeds traveled and the uses on adjoining properties. Specifically, she addressed some suggestions that the development should use a connection to Kenneth Drive rather than a new entrance on Biggs Ford. The property in question is privately held and would have to be condemned by the Town of Walkersville. The current neighbors have built close to or on the lot in question.
The developers left with ideas to develop a plan to meet the requirements of the town.
The last item on the agenda, a discussion of allowing permeable pavement within the town, was voted down unanimously.
Before adjourning, George Rudy, a former resident and candidate for Burgess of Walkersville, presented some concerns about the former Valero. The property cannot accept fuel deliveries due to multiple cases before the Maryland Department of Environment. Mr. Rudy shared that he had contacted MDE for more information and that the property would be up for auction in the future. He promised to keep the Town informed. GladeValley.net has requested information on any violations at this facility through the Public Information Act. We will follow up as soon as we receive information from the MDE.