by Gerald Winegrad
The current proposal for a 49-acre development at Crystal Spring would destroy 27 acres of priority forest to build a large senior development of nearly 400 homes and 48 assisted living units along with auxiliary buildings, new roads, and 500 parking spaces. The maps below show the land as it exists and next to it the proposed development superimposed:
THE PROJECT WILL HAVE MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS:
- 27 acres of Priority Forest will be destroyed if planned construction is completed.
- National Lutheran community Services (NLCS), the developer, had committed to reforest on a one-to-one basis all forest cleared but has now reneged and will only complete minimum reforestation required by the City, much less than one-to-one.
- NLCS had committed to on-site stormwater management, but their plans show a large retention pond on Mas Que Farm property, which the City has already advised them will not be allowed as the entire 75-acre Mas Que property is to be placed under a conservation easement per the Annexation Agreement.
- Polluted stormwater is the #1 pollutant of the South River and the developers still have no real plan to adhere to their pledge to manage 100% of stormwater on site and to not exceed current pollutant loads or the rate and volume of exiting flows.
TRAFFIC REMAINS A CONCERN:
- The senior housing project is expected to generate more traffic as at least 500 new residents are added along with all the workers necessary to service the development. The intersection at Forest Drive and Spa Road is already overburdened (F rating) with traffic which should preclude the development.
- It is not clear what other road improvements NLCS will make other than planning a new traffic light where their project would empty into Spa Road as they are planning to use the intersection at Spa Road as the main entrance for the community. With traffic coming onto and exiting Spa Road to and from Forest Drive, a bad intersection will be made worse.
- NLCS is also planning to have an entrance at Crystal Spring Farm Road, but are not planning to have a traffic light. People exiting the community there will not be able to turn left onto Forest Drive.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT REMAINS A CONCERN:
- While the new plan is for a large senior-only development, there is nothing that prevents the developers from later submitting plans for commercial development on their land bordering Forest Drive which could include another large high traffic-generating food store.
- NLCS is only planning to acquire 49 acres on the northeastern part of the 111 acres at Crystal Spring, which will leave the entire western half of the property (about 66 acres) free for further development by the owner. These 66 acres are zoned to allow more than 200 non-age restricted housing units to be built. According to City officials, the developers will be required to submit a master plan for the entire 190 acres to include plans for the 66 acres.
As the developer seeks to win public support and City approval for their plan to develop Crystal Spring, here are seven major issues that need to be addressed. This list was also shared with City officials:
- Extinguish all development rights on the remaining 66 acres at Crystal Spring and the undeveloped land on the developer’s 49 acres.
- Reduce the footprint of the development as clearing 27 acres of priority forest for approximately 400 housing units is unacceptable.
- Replace all trees cleared on at least a one-to-one basis on the site or on property adjoining the site.
- Manage all stormwater on the 49-acre site with a plan guaranteeing no net increase in the rate, volume or pollutant loads from a 20-year storm event.
- Finalize exact location and terms with stringent development restrictions for the required 75-acre conservation easement on the adjoining Mas Que Farm property.
- Resolve location of the parallel (to Forest Drive) connector road and cost-sharing to pay for it.
- Resolve the failing intersection at Spa Road and Forest Drive and the projected failing intersection at Forest Drive and Crystal Spring Farm Road. The developer must make improvements so that they no longer have E and F ratings. The City’s Policies and Guidelines prohibit new development from being approved unless such traffic improvements are made.
While the developers have publicly said they will have both Department of Aging and City approval by December 1, they have not submitted a plan to the City yet and appear to be still working on and changing their plans.
There are already 36 senior living facilities within a 10-mile radius of Crystal Spring with more under construction and more planned. Bay Village next to the CVS on Bay Ridge Road has City approval for 88 assisted living units and Brightview Annapolis just down Rt. 178 from the Annapolis Mall is under construction with 165 senior units including assisted living.
Also of interest to local residents is the cost NLCS projects for a unit at Crystal Spring. The estimate is about $500,000 up front with a monthly fee of around $3,000 for a single resident of a unit. The prices and monthly fees increase as the size of units increases.
Our goal from the beginning has always been to protect the forests, wetlands, and meadows of Crystal Spring from destruction, not only because of the environmental implications, but also to maintain the quality of life for residents who live along this peninsula and suffer from dangerous overcrowding of our roads and schools. We will continue to use every avenue available to achieve this.
Gerald W. Winegrad represented the Annapolis area in the Maryland Legislature for 16 years and as a State Senator wrote, sponsored, or managed nearly all environmental legislation passing the Senate, including the Chesapeake Bay legislation.
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