5-15-12 FNP City needs more details on Crum annexation

Features of planned development

  • $572 million: total value at completion
  • $181 million in commercial and office development
  • 700 single-family homes
  • 300 townhouses
  • 200 condominiums
  • 1 million square feet of office
  • 120,000 square feet of retail
  • 80,000 square feet for a grocery store

The Frederick city planning commissioners agreed unanimously Monday that they want more details about Crum Farm Land LLC’s request to annex an additional 250 acres before they make a recommendation to the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The proposed annexation cannot change the 2009 terms of Crum Farm Land’s 285-acre annexation of adjoining property, but it does open the door for new negotiations concerning the additional land, staff said. For the conservation group Friends of Frederick County, the original Crum annexation and its conditions do not adequately address the impact the annexation will have on schools and roads.

The proposal, for 1,200 houses and 1.3 million square feet of nonresidential development, includes a 15-acre school site, a 22-acre park and improvements to Willowbrook Road.

Commissioners Rick Stup, Lib Fetting and Josh Bokee said they would like to see some guarantees that the concessions and park connections, pedestrian trails and road construction would happen as envisioned.

Crum Farm Land representatives said they are not trying to get out of any of the 2009 agreements, but are also not looking to make more concessions because the new proposal is to build the same amount of commercial and residential development over a greater area. The result is a less dense development that does not increase the need for water and sewer service that has already been approved.

The annexation would add 252 acres west of U.S. 15, southwest of Sundays Lane, and north of Willowbrook Road. The land adjoins 285 acres of Crum Farm Land that were annexed in 2009, and would allow the developer to use 535 acres instead of 285 acres for the approved 1,200 homes and 1.3 million square feet of commercial and office space, said Bruce Dean, the property owner’s attorney.

Although the 2009 annexation took in land in what was considered the city’s Tier I imminent growth area, the current proposal involves Tier III land, which is not scheduled for growth or to have water and sewer service for 20 to 30 years. The land was originally all part of one tract, Dean said.

Commissioners said it could set a dangerous precedent to allow Tier III properties to cut ahead of the order of development envisioned by the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I’m concerned about the Tier III thing,” Fetting said.

Dean said the Crum case does not violate the tiered planning because the property has water and sewer service allotted, and the tiers designate properties according to likely water and sewer service. If there is no plan for service, then it goes into the third tier.

Tier II is for property where service is to be available in about 10 years, and few are left, Dean said. In the case of the Crum properties, if they are reunited, the water and sewer is available as part of the Potomac Water Service Agreement.

The 2009 annexation agreement requires most development to wait until a new interchange is built at U.S. 15 and Biggs Ford Road, and that would not change if the additional land is annexed, Dean said. It would take about 10 years to develop the first 350 to 450 houses, and 20 to build the entire project, said Mark Fries, Crum Farm Land consultant.

Janice Wiles, Friends of Frederick County director, told commissioners neither annexation agreement can be combined with the 2009 annexation. The effects on U.S. 15 traffic and school capacity have not been adequately addressed in the 2009 agreement or the current one.

Commissioners tentatively rescheduled their vote for their July 9 meeting and plan to have workshops with Crum representatives to get more details of the plan.

“I don’t have a clear picture of what we’re getting,” Stup said.