This article brought to you by Citizens Against Mt. Airy Overdevelopment (C.A.M.O.).
August – October 2023
New Open Space Waiver Adopted (Ordinance 2023-30)
In September, the Town Council voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance preserving open space, with Council Member Domotor providing the lone “No” vote. For many residents, passage of this ordinance was viewed as the righting of a wrong committed by the prior town council in 2021 (see Open Space 101). With the passage of 2023-30, MXD developments will now be required to provide 3 acres of open space for every 100 new residents when the town is in an open space deficit. Previously, they were only required to provide 10% of the gross developable acreage as open space. The town is currently in an open space deficit of 80+ acres. This ordinance now aligns MXD developments’ open space requirements with the same as other residential developments in town and is a step in preserving open space in the town. The only residential zone that uses a different formula is the downtown zone, and that is due to lot size limitations in the downtown area.
WATCH: Town Council President Tim Washabaugh’s comments on this ordinance
New Water Well Yield Requirements Passed (Ordinance 2023-40)
In October, the Town Council passed an ordinance requiring any new well provide a minimum net yield of 75,000 gallons per day (GPD) to be accepted as a Town water supply well. This ordinance passed 3-2 with Council Members Galletti and Domotor dissenting. Public comments against this ordinance came from the team working to develop the Beck property. The Beck team insisted this ordinance was only being put forth in opposition to their development.
During a lengthy discussion between town officials, it was stated that 75,000 GPD is a “rule of thumb” for well acceptance and the ordinance is intended to codify that rule and protect the town from fiscally irresponsible decisions. Wells with lower yields, particularly anything less than 50,000 GPD, can be a poor investment for the town. The cost to establish and maintain lower yielding wells may not be worth the amount of water they produce and this was confirmed by the Town Engineer, Barney Quinn.
WATCH: After hearing opposition from Domotor and Galletti, Council President Washabaugh explains the ordinance
Mixed Use Zoning Update Receives Favorable Recommendation (Ordinance 2023-32)
Despite significant opposition from the Beck development team, the Planning Commission (PC) made a favorable recommendation on an update to Mixed Use zoning. Ordinance 2023-32 would change existing Mixed Use zoning code in the following ways:
- Increase required open space from 10% of gross developable acreage to 40%. (Note: The favorable recommendation from the PC went forward with an amendment from 40% to 30% net developable)
- Reduce the maximum number of townhomes allowed per row to five (5). (Note: This may be amended to a maximum of 6 per row.)
The next step will be a public hearing on November 6th at 6:40 PM. It will likely be on the agenda for adoption during Town Council meeting that night which begins at 7:30 PM.
Beck Property Public Hearings
The Planning Commission hosted two public hearings on the Beck Property pre-concept sketch plan in September 2023. The meetings were attended by citizens who shared their concerns on several issues, particularly adequacy of public facilities (water, sewer, traffic, schools, and open space) and emergency services. No citizens spoke out in support of the development. The next step will be a public joint workshop held by Town Council and the Planning Commission with the development team. Public comments will not be allowed during this meeting, but the Planning Commission has promised to represent citizen concerns heard during the public hearing and ask questions of the developer.
The September public hearings are available for viewing on the Town’s Facebook page:
Greentree Development Process Takes Next Step
The Greentree developer has submitted a Pattern Book to the Planning Commission for review and approval. Once approved, the Mixed Use-Community Commercial development can proceed. Greentree is located at the corner of North Main Street and Candice Drive and its pre-concept sketch was approved by the Town Council in 2022. The pattern book shows artist renderings of the elevations of the townhomes, villas, and single family homes as well as the commercial building. Copies of the Greentree Pattern Book are now available in Town Hall and online.