Cloverly Community is concerned especially because aspects of this development application appear to be unrealistic, highly-problematic or misrepresented and yet, the plans seem to be getting approved.
Example concerns with this project include, but are not limited to:
- The scale of proposed development is huge. It covers 15.55 acres (a tract impact of 17.7 acres). It consists of a sanctuary with the capacity to seat 1,600 people, classrooms to seat 360 students in K through 12, a multipurpose gymnasium including a youth center, fellowship areas, administrative offices and 400 parking spaces including a below-ground parking garage. In addition, the church is planning to build a rectangular sports field that is 150 feet wide and 250 feet long with bleachers for 300 people just 100 feet away from a residential property. A development of this magnitude within a residential community will significantly diminish the quality of life for local residents.
- Trying to use a water and sewer category exclusion that was approved many years ago for a a 750 seat church -- clearly a MUCH smaller project.
- Trying to significantly reduce the amount of ON-SITE forest conservation commitment (calculated to be 8 acres) by the County Council in many years ago (1999 resolution no CR 14-334) to something less than 5 acres. Our understanding is that staff made an "administrative decision" to approve this change. As I understand it, this means that staffers have gave themselves authority to reverse a Council commitment without any review by or agreement from the County Council.
- The proposed development will increase the imperviousness of the existing site to 27 percent. This increased stormwater runoff will pass through residential properties before it drains into the nearby Bryant Nursery Stream and a culvert under a private road that are the only means of access for the four residents adjacent to this development. The existing stream and culvert are already significantly degraded and experience flooding when it rains. Any damage to this private culvert and road is currently the responsibility of the four residents next to this road. Based on a report prepared by Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection the total amount of impervious area in the Bryants Nursery Run subwatershed has increased by 60% in the past seven years (the imperviousness was 7 percent in 2009). This rapid increase of development is a threat to our streams and environment and the the additional imperviousness created by this new development will add further stress to this already degraded stream.
- Characterizing the stretch of New Hampshire Avenue in front of the church as a "6-lane major highway". In fact, NH doesn't go to 6 lanes until just north of the ICC (about 2 miles south of the planned site). At the site, New Hampshire Avenue currently has only two through lanes in each direction.
- Using a Thursday morning as the time for a traffic study, when the peak traffic time for the area (and for this project) will be Sunday mornings between the two services of potentially 1,600 each. If everyone comes 4 to a vehicle (which is pretty unlikely), there will be 800 vehicles trying to access and exit the property in a 30 minute period.
- The master plan and the RE-2 zoning code call for "low density". the developer purports to meet or exceed guidance of the master plan by adding, "further variety to the density and the lot sizes of the area". The plan force-fits a very high-density campus into what is supposed to be a low-density area.
- Capacity and programming Information has not been provided for most of the facilities planned for the campus.
- The community has submitted questions and concerns about the traffic study and other parts of the project plan, with no responses provided.
- The 4:1 people per vehicle assumption in terms of determining parking spaces seems unrealistic and the Z2 bus, which serves this area, doesn't run on weekends. The consensus opinion is that 400 parking spaces will not be sufficient. We are not aware of any plans by the church for overflow parking.
We are requesting the following changes:
- Scale down this over-sized project and negotiate a significantly smaller overall plan.
- Require incremental approval of each phase – not an up-front approval with a multi-year validity. (I.e., Review school and ball field construction plans in a later date)
- Require the applicant to go through a new water/sewer category change application process based on the plans for this project. Currently, the approval is from a 17-year old study for a much smaller and less-complex project. Require the developer to do a perc test to determine water table elevations for the site. (please see sample letters 6 and 9 in the opposition letters tab).
- Reconsider the legal framework for allowing PIFs in residential areas where there is no benefit to residents
- Uphold the County Council’s earlier requirement for a minimum of 8 acres of perpetual forest conservation on this site. (No off-site forestation should be allowed; no arbitrary reduction in requirements by staff as it is currently proposed.). Require all reforestations to be on site. Do not allow offsite or fee in Lieu for reforestion. We need trees in Cloverly not somewhere else.
- Address existing issues with the stormwater management facilities and require re-engineering and modifications to handle the additional runoff caused by the development. Assess flooding and degradation of the culvert under Bryants Nursery Road and require financial commitment for maintenance.
- Require a traffic analysis that includes the real peaks (Sundays) and nearby not signalized intersections. The traffic analysis should consider the cummulative effect of allowing multiple churches on the same road, in this case New Hampshire Ave, with multiple daily services and activities.
- Provide a plan for overflow parking that does not include parking on New Hampshire Avenue or neighborhood side streets, and analyzes traffic.
- Applicant to share their list of programming and activities and provide mitigations for noise, light, traffic and parking impacts to surronding communities.
- Require noise analysis and mitigation during outdoor events.