October 17, 2018
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  • One of the key concerns the Chartridge community has raised about development has been stormwater. As the forested land around Chartridge has been developed over the years, silt and sediment have built up in the Chartridge common area, causing the neighborhood’s recreational field to flood every time there is a heavy rainfall.
    One of the key concerns the Chartridge community has raised about development has been stormwater. As the forested land around Chartridge has been developed over the years, silt and sediment have built up in the Chartridge common area, causing the neighborhood’s recreational field to flood every time there is a heavy rainfall.

Community Awaits Formal Decision From Board Of Appeals Regarding Cluster Development

Dylan Roche
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January 10, 2018

Those familiar with opera might know the expression “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” In the case of Sabrina Park Phase 3 — the controversial development proposed by Ameri-Star Homes that would add 28 homes to 7.89 acres of land on Jumpers Hole Road behind the Chartridge community — it’s not over until the Board of Appeals issues a formal ruling. Even then, it might not be completely over.

Following a 7-0 vote by the Board of Appeals in late November to amend the site plan for Sabrina Park as approved by the Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning, some community members are finding themselves confused.

“A motion was made for amendments to the plan, but we don’t know whether that means they will approve the sketch plan with amendments or deny the sketch plan and suggest amendments for resubmittal,” explained Ben Roberts, a Chartridge resident who, along with neighbor Tom Scott, has led the community’s fight against the development. “It all depends on the wording of the written decision.”

The Board of Appeals is required to issue a formal ruling within 60 days of the last hearing, which was held on November 27.

Chartridge’s fight against Sabrina Park Phase 3 has been going on since August 2013, when the developer held a community meeting with residents, a requirement for developers requesting a variance to county code. “Pretty outspoken concerns were raised at that meeting,” Scott recalled, “and almost none of those concerns were addressed in the developer’s plan he continued to submit for approval.”

Those concerns primarily focused on stormwater. As the forested land around Chartridge has been developed over the years, silt and sediment have built up in the Chartridge common area, causing the neighborhood’s recreational field to flood every time there is a heavy rainfall. Scott also indicated that residents are concerned about deforestation, overcrowded schools, traffic, and small lot sizes that will affect the character of the neighborhood.

According to Art Timmons, chairman of the planning and zoning committee for the Greater Severna Park Council, the plan for Sabrina Park does not reflect cluster development as it was intended to be used. Per county code, cluster development permits variation in lot sizes without an increase in overall density with the intention of preserving open space, tree cover and similar natural features. “The plan as approved by Planning and Zoning needs to be changed,” he said. “There were too many houses and not enough preservation to be a cluster development. A cluster development is supposed to preserve natural features, and it wasn’t doing that.”

Timmons explained that this situation is one of many in which Larry Tom, the former officer of Planning and Zoning, granted modifications to the county code that were requested by developers. “If you ignore the code, you’re ignoring the law,” he said. “Planning and Zoning is the one that should be stopping it, and they just weren’t doing it.” Tom retired in 2016 and was succeeded by Phil Hagar, though Hagar declined comment until the Board of Appeals releases its formal ruling.

Even if the Board of Appeals releases a ruling in favor of Chartridge, the fight would not necessarily be over. “Say the Board of Appeals were to do what the community wants; the developer could still appeal to the circuit court,” said Owen McEvoy, spokesman for County Executive Steve Schuh. “There’s been a lot of community concern about this development. There’s still action that needs to be taken by the Board of Appeals before there’s finality to it.”

Scott and Roberts agreed that they will have to wait until there is a written decision to determine the next course of action for Chartridge; however, Scott expects this decision might change the pattern for the county’s enforcement of the code going forward. “It opens up the broader question — if they reject [this project], what does that mean for every other development in the pipeline?” he said. “Should they be re-examined? Should other communities be emboldened to challenge those developments? I think all those developments need to be reviewed.”

The Severna Park Voice will continue to monitor this and other decisions by the Board of Appeals. Check back next month or follow us online for updates as they become available.


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