What could have been the first “floating zone” allowed after the approval of the Master Plan will have to wait for another day.
The applicant, Maria Burley, owns a five-acre parcel on Seven Locks Road, across from the Heights School. The parcel is approximately 77 percent forest and is very steep.
The land is currently zoned R-90 (2.9 single family houses per acre or 3.6 per acre under cluster development), which would allow for 15-18 single-family houses. Burley’s application would be to re-zone the parcel RT-8 (eight townhouses per acre) and put up 30 townhouses.
Park and Planning staff had some reservations with the plan that had been submitted.
“Ultimately, we could support re-zoning, but not with this plan,” said Callum Murray, Potomac team leader for Park and Planning.
Staff did not believe that the applicant submitted enough material regarding forest conservation and stormwater mitigation for them to make an informed decision.
Although the developer contended that it would preserve sufficient amount of forest and several specimen trees, staff was not convinced.
“Forest conservation is not sufficient at this site,” said Kathleen Reilly of Park and Planning.
Stormwater mitigation is another factor, as the site is very steep, and the amount of impervious surface being added could create problems with runoff.
Burley proposed creating a stormwater mitigation area in the site’s central parking area and channelling runoff to that site. However, the proposed area is near the top of the site, and staff believes that it would be insufficient. “It would not capture the runoff from the most steeply sloped part of the property,” Reilly said.
Burley’s attorney questioned the need for forest and stormwater plans, believing that they were only applying for a zoning change.
“This is a re-zoning, not a site plan review,” said Sue Carter, an attorney for the Burleys. “We believe this level of detail is premature at this stage.”
Carter argued that the re-zoning should go forward and that the other issues were better decided at a later time.
Additionally, a representative for the property owner asserts that they were not contacted during the Master Plan process.
“The Master Plan is a bit one sided,” said Isaac Marks, attorney for the Burley family. “Park and Planning had no input from the Burleys, and the Burleys would not have approved.”
The Planning Board’s legal staff responded that the level of detail requested was a requirement.
Park and Planning Commissioner Allison Bryant hinted to the developer that they should request a deferral and provide the information that had been requested. The developer still hesitated.
Park and Planning Vice Chair Wendy Perdue explained that development in such a steep, heavily wooded area might or might not be able to be accommodated at the level the applicant desires.
“The way that one figures that out is by getting some more detail,” Perdue said.
She continued by making it very clear that the developer would not get approval on that day. “Now if you’re just dying for a decision, I’m happy to give one,” Perdue said.
Commissioner Meredith Wellington concurred with Perdue, and Carter requested a deferral. It was granted unanimously. It is not clear when the project will next appear before Park and Planning.