April 10, 2001


Contact: Steven Kaii-Ziegler
Director, Dept. of Planning & Zoning
(410) 758-1255

QAC Commissioners Place 25 Conditions on Growth Allocation Approval for the Four Seasons Project

Centreville-With the adoption of Resolution #01-13 today, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners officially stated their intention to proceed with the granting of Growth Allocation for the proposed Four Seasons Age-Restricted community on Kent Island, but only if a list of 25 conditions and restrictions are addressed. Prominent among the conditions being imposed by the Commissioners are measures to increase shoreline buffers along the Chester River, alter the project design to better “cluster” the development and increase the amount of open space, require additional park land to be dedicated, address citizen concerns and many other measures to be contained in a binding Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA).

This decision by the Commissioners builds upon the Planning Commission’s decision in July 2000 to formally recommend that Growth Allocation be granted and the State Critical Area Commission’s December 2000 decision to grant Growth Allocation with conditions. Following the approval by the Critical Area Commission in December, the Growth Allocation petition was forwarded to the Queen Anne's County Commissioners, who held a public hearing in February 2001 with their decision required before April 20, 2001. At their regular weekly meeting this morning, the Commissioners adopted a Resolution indicating their intention to proceed with the granting of 293.25 acres of Growth Allocation for Petitioner K. Hovnanian of Maryland. The Resolution passed by a unanimous vote, but is conditional upon 25 conditions and restrictions that must be addressed to the satisfaction of the County Commissioners.

“The Commissioners are expressing their intention to proceed with the Growth Allocation approval process, but only if the conditions we have outlined are satisfied,” said Commission President George O’Donnell. “We have very carefully considered all of the facts, regulations, and public input on this high profile project. We have unanimously decided to affirm our support of the County’s adopted Comprehensive Plan, Critical Area Program, Growth Sub-Area Plans, and implementing ordinances.”

From 1992-98 Queen Anne's County was one of the first counties to embrace the State of Maryland’s Smart Growth initiatives by adopting Growth Sub Area plans designed to guide and direct the majority of new growth to areas with existing population centers and infrastructure. The County’s six growth areas in Stevensville, Chester, Kent Narrows, Grasonville, Queenstown, and Centreville comprise in total only six percent of the land mass in the County. Over 90 percent of all land in Queen Anne's County is in preservation or zoned agricultural. In 2000 Queen Anne's County led the state in number of farmland acres preserved. In the last three years, Queen Anne's County has permanently preserved more than eight times the amount of land approved for development. The proposed Four Seasons project is located within the Stevensville and Chester Growth Sub Areas and current zoning allows for approximately 2340 dwellings, considerably more than the 1350 homes being proposed by the Four Seasons project.

“We have imposed 25 conditions that must be met, or the project will never get final approval,” said Commissioner O”Donnell. “The Planning Commission has previously offered its favorable recommendation, and the State Critical Area Commission has already approved this Growth Allocation petition, with conditions. We have imposed several new restrictions and conditions and have agreed to only let the project proceed if all these conditions are satisfied.”

Prominent among the new restrictions imposed by the County Commissioners are:

1) Require increased shoreline buffer on the Chester River from the 100 ft. (approximately 120 ft. average with nontraditional measuring techniques) avg. buffer required by the State Critical Area Commission to a more stringent 150 ft. average buffer. “We have addressed citizen concerns, in that one of the most consistent requests we heard from citizens about this project was to increase the buffer along the Chester River and we have done that,” said County Commissioner John McQueeney.

2) Require the petitioner to dedicate an additional 27.5 (equivalent to ½ of a 300 ft. shore buffer along the Chester River) acres of parkland for the use of all Queen Anne's County citizens. “This is in addition to the 5.5 acres shown on the approved sketch plan. We are going to require K. Hovnanian to provide this parkland for the enjoyment and use of all the residents of Kent Island and Queen Anne's County,” said County Commissioner John McQueeney.

3) Require the petitioner to retain the proposed 80-bed Assisted Living Facility within the project, or offsite if necessary, or provide for a complimentary use. “A consistent voice we heard from the citizens was the desire to keep the Assisted Living component. A facility like this does not exist in Queen Anne's County. Many of our current residents are forced to move out of the County in their later years and we support their desire to be able to retire in their home county,” said Commissioner O”Donnell.

4) Alter the Design of the project to incorporate design modifications to better cluster development and increase open space in the interior of the project. “We want to see more open spaces in the interior of the project, “ said County Commissioner Marlene Davis.

5) Reduce the number of for sale age-restricted single-family dwellings to no more than 930, and the number of for sale age-restricted condos/town homes shall be increased to no more than 420. The additional for sale age restricted multi family units above one story must be located on the east side of Cox Creek. “This should also improve overall design, facilitate clustering and increase open space,” said County Commissioner Marlene Davis.

6) Requiring the applicant to enter into a legally binding Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) with the County prior to submitting a final plan. The DRRA must:
(a) be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan as well as the Stevensville and Chester Growth Area Plan.
(b) provide for the recapture of Growth Allocation in the event the project does not proceed as provided in the DRRA or in a manner consistent with these conditions or any conditions of site plan or subdivision approval.
(c) the County Commissioners must then approve the agreement.

All three Commissioners stressed the importance of the Petitioner’s willingness to make commitments, financial and otherwise, in the DRRA which will adequately compensate the County for the anticipated grant of Growth Allocation. ”The Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) will be a major factor in the process,” said Commission President George O’Donnell. “We will be requiring many things from K’Hovnanian. Many of our areas of
concern, such as traffic, Water and Sewer, among others, must be agreed or the Growth Allocation will be recaptured and all approvals will be voided.

The next step in the process is for the County Commissioners to refer this proposal back to the Planning Commission for their review and recommendations and to the Critical Area Commission for their review and approval.


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