The Walkersville Planning Commission narrowly approved preliminary plans for the development of a 102 single-family home community on Tuesday evening. The commission spent a great deal of time asking questions of the developer.
Questions ranged from road design, sidewalks, and drainage of storm run-off. Commission member Dick Brady asked about visibility at the planned entrance on Fountain Rock Road, and access to some houses at the entrance on Antietam Drive which would be shared with Walkersville Elementary and High Schools.
The Commission requested a sidewalk be constructed along Route 194. The developers suggested building the sidewalk twenty to thirty feet from the highway through their planned open space. They must wait for the Maryland State Highway Administration’s comments on the plan.
The most heated discussion occurred when Planning Commission member David Ennis requested that the developer build a sidewalk along Fountain Rock Road. The developer and the town planner noted that the road is a county road, and the county had not requested any improvements. When Mr. Ennis pushed the subject further, Planning Commission member John Zimmerman spoke up. Mr. Zimmerman asked why the town should require the developer to build a sidewalk to the rail road tracks. He then noted that the town is not installing a sidewalk on Glade Road while installing curbs. He declared it hypocritical to ask the developer to do something that the town won’t do.
Town Commissioner Russ Winch took exception to the plan’s roads. The plan includes a 950′ cul-de-sac which is 150′ longer than town code requires, and two “stub roads” that dead end at the property line of a farm that is zoned agricultural. In previous meetings, Commissioner Winch opposed the stub roads, but the Planning Commission and the Town Commissioners approved their use in the plan. The developer argued that the approval of stub roads included the 950′ cul-de-sac. Commissioner Winch reminded the members of the Planning Commission that the limit was in place for a reason and a developer was recently required to make changes to their proposed cul-de-sac. Planning Commission member John Zimmerman declared the issue resolved from previous votes, and requested the commission move on from the subject.
Others noted that the Walkersville Comprehensive Plan requires that Antietam Drive become a collector road as part of planned road improvements. The developer’s plan requires traffic to Fountain Rock Road wind through narrow streets of the development.
Finally, Planning Commission member Dick Brady noted that the Planning Commission members did not receive the developer’s traffic study until 7:00 p.m. Members discussed the low numbers in the report, but wanted more time to review the study. Others noted that the State Highway Administration’s comments and approvals have not been received.
At the conclusion, the Planning Commission voted 4-3 in favor of approval with the condition that other agencies’ concerns be addressed at the next stage of approvals. Planning Commission members Michael Kuster, Timothy Pollak, and Town Commissioner Russ Winch voted against approval. Planning Commission members Dick Brady, David Ennis, Lin Snider, and John Zimmerman voted in favor.