Communities Rally To Protect Saltworks Creek
Published: February 11, 2020
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Feb. 11, 2020. All of the communities, and scores of residents in the Saltworks Creek watershed, rallied today to protect Saltworks Creek from development.
They testified before the Anne Arundel County Administrative Hearing Officer to oppose a planned Assisted Living Center and 76 townhouses proposed at the confluence of Cabin Branch and Saltworks Creek, off of Bestgate Road at Monticello Road.
All the communities urged Hearing Officer Doug Hollmann to deny the special exemption request to build what’s known as Monticello 2. The opposition was led by attorney Dan Mellin, who represents the existing single-family home community of Monticello at Annapolis HOA on Bestgate Road.
Mr. Mellin pointed out that the area targeted for development is specifically restricted to 20 single-family home lots. This restriction is part of the Declaration for Monticello, through which the Assisted Living Facility and Townhomes would access Bestgate Road.
The proposed project would have to build a causeway over Saltworks Creek to access the proposed project with at least 272 parking spaces for staff and visitors and the residents of the 76 townhouses.
Representatives from Monticello and surrounding communities testified that they had been assured that the area was restricted to R1 zoning, which limits development to low-density, meaning, one home per 40,000 square-foot lot.
This low-density restriction is also clearly shown in the Parole Growth Management Area Plan, which was presented to the hearing officer by Severn Grove resident Chris Swatta.
Swatta explained that the Parole GMA plan, first developed in the 1990s, concentrates business and high density development in an urban core around the mall, hospital, Towne Centre, Harbor Place and government park. The plan clearly draws a hard line where dense development stops along Bestgate Road.
It was a compromise hammered out between county leaders, citizens and development interests to maximize use of infrastructure and transportation.
Click here to view the map.
Swatta and Mellin emphasized how the proposed 76-townhouse and assisted-living project is slated for the area to the north of the “Bestgate Road” area on the map, which is limited to low density, R-1 zoning for single family homes.
The hearing also featured three hours of testimony from nearby residents who voiced opposition to the Assisted Living Facility and Townhouse project on quality of life, public welfare, health, safety and environmental grounds.
Monticello residents Kendal Ehrlich and Michael Titgemeyer objected to the daily stream of traffic, delivery and and emergency vehicles – estimated at more than 100 to 400 vehicles per day – that would have to roll through a quiet residential area, which in turn would threaten safety of children in the neighborhood’s narrow streets.
Titgemeyer underscored the environmental damages and stormwater runoff from increased impervious surfaces that would severely impair Saltworks Creek and the Severn River.
Charade of Assisted Living Facilities
Woodlore residents Hillary Klemmt, AJ Metcalf and Jerry Farrell also testified that they had been reassured that any future homes at the proposed development site are clearly restricted to single-family homes. Hillary Klemmt complained about the developer creating a “charade of proposing an assisted-living facility” when there is already plenty of vacant capacity at such facilities in the area.
Several times, residents from adjoining communities – Severn Grove, Saefern, Woodlore, Monticlello – as well as the Severn Riverkeeper, the Severn River Association and SERC scientist Thomas Jordan, raised concerns about downstream water quality damages the project would create in Saltworks Creek and the Severn River.
They explained that pollutants in the sediment that is washed out by the impervious surfaces in the development and the creek would end up in Saltworks Creek and the Severn River, which then degrades water quality.
Proof: These types of pollutants contributed to a persistent Dead Zone in the summer of 2019. Click here to read SRA’s dead zone report.
David Katz, attorney representing the proposed townhouse project, known as Monticello 2, made it clear that developers will continue to press for this and other high-density residential projects.
He admonished those opposing this project, accusing opponents of enjoying their million-dollar homes and acting like affluent NYMBies (Not-In-My-BackYard). He said opponents forget that they were “once the big bad developer” when their communities were originally built.
Katz also warned that his client will continue this fight to up-zone residential areas because, “there is a housing crisis in this country, and Anne Arundel County is ground zero.” He added that this fight is “just the first step in 20-step process” to build higher density housing in areas once reserved for single family homes.