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Charles County, Maryland

January 14, 2014 Minutes

Minutes
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

 

The Board of Appeals held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Charles County Government Building, La Plata, Maryland. 
  
The following were present:

Luke Hannah, Chairman
Brendan Moon, Vice Chairman
Frederick Mower, Member
Lynn Green, Member
Shannon Houston-Smack, Member
Matthew Clagett, Associate County Attorney
Joseph Rackowski, Planning
Tetchiana Anderson, Planning
Cyndi Bilbra, Planning    
Carrol Everett, Clerk

  • The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. and stated there was a quorum.  Sean Johnston, Alternate, was absent.
  • The Chairman announced the process by which all Board of Appeals hearings are to be conducted.
  • The Chairman announced that anyone wishing to make a statement pertinent to the operations of the Board can do so at this time, excluding the items on tonight’s agenda.
  • The Oath of Office was given to the following new members:  Shannon Houston-Smack and Lynn Green.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mower, seconded by the Vice Chairman to accept the Board of Appeals 2014 Meeting Schedule.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Docket #1319 - Georgi Bunting, request for a variance to reduce the side building restriction line, as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-416 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements.

Ms. Bilbra, Planning Staff, gave a brief overview of the request using a location, aerial and zoning map for clarification:

  • Applicant is proposing to attach an existing detached garage to the house via an enclosed breezeway.
  • Existing garage will be converted to a family room and the breezeway to a kitchen, creating separate living quarters for the property owner’s elderly parents.
  • The existing detached garage is currently in compliance with the building restriction for accessory uses (detached structures) at six feet (6’) from the side lot line. 
  • Since the addition to the house will attach the existing garage to the house, the property owner must now meet the requirement of the side building restriction line of forty feet (40’) for the main structure. 
  • The garage proposed to be attached to the dwelling is not close to the house on the adjacent property.  Changing the garage to living quarters should not affect the adjacent home.
  • The well and septic areas are located as such that would prohibit them from seeking other options/locations for which to add on to their home
  • The topography drops off on the other side of the house.
  • Staff found the Applicant did explore other options first to provide comfortable living conditions for their elderly parents.

The Chairman swore in the Applicant:

Georgi Bunting
6995 Annapolis Woods Rd.
La Plata, MD

Questions from the Board included the following:  Is there an entrance to the garage from the house side? 

The Vice Chairman expressed concern that the request has not shown compliance with Subsection B regarding exceptional narrowness, shallowness or shape of the property.

The Chairman swore in the builder for the Applicant: 

John Hein
13860 Lloyd Point Farm Rd.
Newburg, MD

Mr. Hein explained why the proposed side of the house is the best location for the home improvements.  Alterations to the other side of the house, in addition to the driveway, would cost significantly more. 

The Vice Chairman concluded that the Board has the authority to grant the request based on unusual conditions to the property.  The location of the garage, septic and well created the unique circumstance.

Actions by the Board

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. Smack, to approve Docket #1319.  Mr. Mower opposed the MOTION.  The vote was 5 in favor, 1 opposed, and the MOTION passed.

 

Docket #1320 – Soltesz, Inc., for a variance to reduce the rear building restriction line, as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-416 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements.

Ms. Bilbra, Planning Staff, gave a brief overview of the case using a location, aerial and zoning map for clarification:

  • Activity within this zone is based on Docket 90 guidelines between St. Charles and the County Commissioners.
  • Incorporated in Docket 90 was a requirement for a safety zone between the White Plains Golf Course and the Gleneagles Neighborhood, Parcel G. 
  • The safety zone was established approximately 100’ from the fairway of Hole #1. 
  • All dwelling units adjacent to the golf course shall be located at least 40‘ from the safety zone or 25‘ from the property line, whichever is greater. 
  • The subject lot (G56) is located directly behind Hole #1 and shows a requirement for an additional increase to the rear building restriction line (25’ instead of 15’) on the record plat. 
  • When the Applicant applied for the building permit to construct the house on this lot, the site plan showed the normally required 15’ rear building restriction line instead of the required 25’ rear building restriction required as part of the safety zone code. 
  • The error was not picked up by the Applicant or the Zoning Reviewer until after the house was built.
  • Gleneagles Subdivision is in the Planned Unit Development (PUD) Zone.
  • Staff recommends approval.

The Chairman swore in the following representative for the Applicant:

Patrick Wackerle
5102 Rock Beauty Ct.
Waldorf, MD

The witness is employed by Soltesz.  He referred to Exhibits B, C and D submitted as part of the variance request.  Mr. Wackerle applied for the variance on behalf of the homeowner.   He prepared their engineering site plan and coordinated with the builder.

Mr. Wackerle stated that the building restriction line shown in red on the plat is inaccurate based upon the location of the fairway in relation to the house.  The house is already built and the building restriction line is shown to go through the morning room.  In addition to the safety zone, there are natural trees along the back side of the property line and the home.  Once the development is complete, there will be a 15’ wide buffer planted along the property lines between the green and the homes themselves. 

Questions from the Board included the following:  Who will build the buffer?   Are the adjacent three lots sold?  If the request is denied, what happens next?  Is the builder present?  Are the homeowners present?  Have the homeowners settled on the house?  Are the homeowners here tonight?  Is the builder here tonight?  

Mr. Wackerle stated the house was cited using the PUD Zone building restriction lines

Mr. Wackerle stated that a plat of correction would have to be done on the lot to relocate the building restriction line if the request is denied.

The Chairman swore in the following witness for the Applicant:

Dave Cooksey
Senior Vice President
Soltesz Inc.
401 Post Office Rd.
Waldorf, MD

Mr. Cooksey stated there is a special issue due to a disagreement with the developer as to where the safety zone line should be.  He added that the house meets the intent of the safety zone which is 100’ from the Fairway.  The homeowner is aware of the issue.   They chose to come before the Board because it was the quickest course of action rather than the 6 months needed for a lot line adjustment plat.

The Chairman asked the witness if the request is denied, what would be your course of action. 

Mr. Mower asked if this problem could be solved with a Lot Line Correction plat.

Actions by the Board

Mr. Mower made a MOTION, seconded by the Vice Chairman, to grant the variance for a period of 18 months.  If the issue is still not resolved by the end of that period of time, the homeowner can re-apply for the variance.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.

 

Docket #1311 – La Plata Memorial Gardens, for Special Exception for a cemetery, as provided in Article XIII, Section 297-212 and Article XXV, Section 297-415 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements.

Tetchiana Anderson, Planning Staff, gave a brief overview of the request using a location, aerial and zoning map for clarification:

  • Property location:  6th Election District, at the intersection of Radio Station Road and Route 488, La Plata, MD
  • Zoning:  Rural Residential (RR)
  • Property size:  4.9 acres
  • Site is vacant except for an older residential structure at the rear of the property which is to be demolished once developed.
  • Background:  Property previously approved for a Special Exception in July 2008

Per the Zoning Ordinance, the Special Exception failed to initiate after 3 years and therefore expired in July 2011.

  • The property owner appealed the expiration in May 2013.  The Board denied the request.
  • State Highway Administration (SHA) chose a design with less impact for road improvements.  Currently, since the SHA decision in 2003, they have been monitoring that area and have drastically changed their design.  Recently they chose a roundabout design.
  • Based on the new design information from SHA, Staff recommends denial of the request. 

The Vice Chairman asked if there was a minimum lot size requirement.  Ms. Anderson replied that she is not aware of any; however, there is a 25 ft. buffer requirement under Use No. 4.08.120. 

The Chairman swore in the following representative from the County:

Brian Kagarise
Charles County Government
Capital Services Division

Mr. Kagarise clarified that the roundabout was developed as part of the many Capital Services improvement projects and is a County design.  The County has a Capital Improvements project for improving Radio Station Road from Route 488 all the way to Rosewick Road.  SHA asked the County to evaluate several other alternatives for the intersection improvement.  SHA notified the County in August 2013 that the roundabout is the preferred option for the intersection improvements but has not gone thru permitting for the official approval of the design.    

The Chairman had the following questions for the witness:  Can you give me a timeline for when road improvements would move forward?  How would the County or the State acquire the Applicant’s property in order to make this improvement? 

The Chairman swore in the following County representative:

Diane Shelton
Charles County Government
Right-of-Way Agent
Capital Services Division

The witness discussed the dedication.  The Applicant would be required to dedicate 150 ft. at no cost to the County.  Another area would be put in reservation and the Applicant would be compensated for that.

The Chairman clarified the following:

  • The County needs to acquire a portion of the subject property in order to do the road improvement.
  • If the Applicant’s request is approved, the value of the property goes up.

Roger Fink, Esquire Scott Law Group, represented the Applicant.

The Chairman swore in the following representative for the Applicant:

Mark Lerner
1645 Green Manor Drive
Nanjemoy, MD

Mr. Lerner is 50% owner of the property and is the managing member of the LLC.  He gave a brief overview how he plans to develop the property; i.e., landscaping, fencing

Mr. Lerner stated that he would manage the cemetery. 

Mr. Lerner described his traffic management concept.  All parking would be on site.
The average funeral procession is approximately 19 cars.  The road would be approximately 22 ft. wide.

The following Applicant Exhibit was presented:

Exhibit #1 - Docket #1210 - Decision & Ordered dated July 11, 2008

Mr. Lerner stated that he is familiar with the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law that the Board made in 2008 and will comply with the conditions of approval.

Mr. Lerner stated that a roundabout, if developed, will not impact the operations or traffic flow of the cemetery. 

Questions from the Board included the following:  Where do you plan to have your sales office?  If the County’s plan and preferred option by the State is built, how much parking will you have?   Will there be cremation done on site?   Why was 3 years not long enough for you to get the cemetery going?  How much more engineering do you have to do before breaking ground?  

The Chairman swore in the following witness for the Applicant:

Staci Lagana
Lorenzi, Dodd, & Gunnill, Inc.
3475 Leonardtown Rd.
Waldorf, MD

The witness is a Land Planner.  She stated the property is a suitable use for a cemetery as it will have minimal impact to the surrounding properties.  There will be flat headstones, appropriate bufferyards, and appropriate ingress/egress would be provided. 

Ms. Lagana was involved in the prior Special Exception request.  She stated that there are no notable changes from the January 2008 application and proposed use from the current application and proposed use.

Ms. Lagana stated that the Applicant can comply with all conditions of approval from the prior Decision & Order in 2008.

Ms. Lagana stated she reviewed the current Staff Report and is not aware of any new traffic issues since the prior Special Exception was approved in 2008.

Ms. Lagana briefly described the site development plan review process.  A Traffic Study would be provided and an Adequate Public Facilities review.   They would then move forward with engineering the site and eventually bond the project, obtain permits, and move on to construction.

Ms. Lagana stated that a proposed roundabout will improve the intersection and create a better flow of traffic.

The following Applicant Exhibit was provided for the record:

Exhibit #2 - Letter from SHA dated August 28, 2013

Ms. Lagana stated per Exhibit #2, SHA found no objection to plan approval.  Should Charles County require any off- site improvements to a state road, an access permit will be required.

Ms. Anderson submitted the following Zoning Officer Exhibit for the record:

Exhibit #1 - Letter from SHA dated September 12, 2013

Ms. Anderson stated that Zoning Officer Exhibit #1 supersedes the previous correspondence (Applicant Exhibit #2).  SHA completed the review and has no objection to the Special Exception request so long as the developer/applicant dedicate and reserve the Right-of-Way (ROW) along MD 488 for any future SHA/County improvement project at that intersection.  The land reservation should be held in place for a minimum of 3years. 

Ms. Lagana responded that it is difficult to know what to put in reservation now as nothing has been finalized.

The Vice Chairman asked the Applicant to clarify their position on Article XXV, Section 297-415.(5), (7) and (8) regard traffic  impacts, ingress and egress and objectives of the Charles County Comprehensive Plan.

Ms. Lagana responded that traffic impacts are assessed at the site development plan stage.  A Traffic Study would be required and they would have to mitigate any traffic impacts.  She noted that they have already committed to doing an acceleration/deceleration lane now. 

Mr. Clagett cautioned the Board to keep in mind when evaluating and making a decision, that the Special Exception use of this particular cemetery is right for this particular location. 

The Vice Chairman asked Staff to address the question if the proposed highway improvements for Radio Station Road are part of the current Comprehensive Plan. 

Mr. Fink stated that the hours of operation will remain the same:  10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Testimony was closed on Docket #1311.

Actions by the Board

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Mr. Mower, to approve the Special Exception for Docket #1311 to include the current Staff recommended conditions with the following changes: Remove Condition #2, change the language of #3 to reflect that the property owner agrees to provide the required right-of-way dedication for “road widening “ in fee simple, etc. from Radio Station Road all the way to MD 488.  Change the language of Condition #7 from “the roundabout” to “a roundabout” and also to incorporate the original conditions of Docket #1210.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

A MOTION was made by Ms. Smack, seconded by Ms. Green, to approve the Minutes for September 10, 2013.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. Smack, to approve the Minutes for October 8, 2013.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.

 

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.