Concerns Open After Zoning Meeting

Concerns Open After Zoning Meeting

The hill on Zion Drive worried residents in a recent community rezoning meeting in the Braddock District. Chuck Sleeper's house borders the 17-acre, wooded lot where 42 houses are slated to be built if the land gets rezoned from R-1, or one dwelling unit per acre, to R-3, three dwelling unit per acre.

"That intersection at Zion and Roberts is already crazy. This is just more to add to those problems. We haven't had any kids killed yet, but the day is coming," he said.

Betsy Michel recalled a recent incident involving the traffic.

"One young lady from Robinson [Secondary School] almost lost her life, and that was just crossing the street," she said.

Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) played host to the community information meeting that was the first step in the process to get land officially rezoned with the county. Every seat in the meeting room at the Kings Park Library was occupied, though some were Robinson Secondary School students meeting a community-hours requirement. Then there were representatives from Eastwood Properties, Stanley Martin Builders, a lawyer, engineer, the county zoning department and area homeowners.

Besides the traffic on Zion, other concerns included trees, buffers, underground utilities, sewers, fences, a rain-water pond and the size of the houses. An architectural drawing was unveiled, revealing the size of the houses.

"Huge houses on little pieces of property," one woman said, shaking her head.

One man suggested leaving it zoned R-1 and just building 17 houses on the property. Eastwood's attorney Bob Lawrence pointed out why he thought that would be a bad idea. The present homeowners could then build anything within the zoning without a plan.

"It's going to be piecemeal development, and it's not going to be planned," Lawrence said.

OVERLOOKING ZION DRIVE in a large, plantation-type house, Tricia Mercer had a different view on the real-estate transaction. She grew up in the house where her family lived for almost 80 years. They owned most of the surrounding property, until her mother and grandmother sold it off, piece by piece, when times got tough.

"My grandfather built this house in 1928. I'm going to be sad to see it go. The old neighborhood is gone, the original people, a lot of them are gone. I want to move south, closer to my family," she said, "I don't really care what happens to it once it's gone."

Mercer's grandmother passed away in 1998, but they spoke about the future of the land.

"They had no problems with me selling it," Mercer said.

Her husband attended the meeting, shook hands with the developer but didn't say anything.

In the back of the property, Leslie Girata has a house on a hill, surrounded by a field and wooded lot. A gravel road leads up to her house, and there's a trail leading through the woods to Lake Royal. She knows that others have talked with developers, as well.

"It's nice here, but it's not going to stay. We're kind of indifferent. If we stayed alone, it wouldn't be like this. The price was pretty good," she said.

Girata intends to buy elsewhere in the area.

Bulova took notes at the meeting. She wanted to see some more developer contributions in the way of roads, parking, pedestrian access and an infill study.

"If this were before me today, it would not be something that I would approve. We would like to see something that reflects what we've heard tonight," she said, referring to altering the existing plans to meet some of the citizens' concerns.

It was only the initial meeting about this property, and it is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors before final approval, Bulova said afterward.

"This is the process we always use. Just because an application has been filed doesn't mean something will be built," she said.