PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to be heard at this meeting please sign the speaker list provided on the table at the side of the Council Chamber. The Chairman reserves the right to limit the amount of time each speaker has for each agenda item.
- Roll Call
- Approval of Minutes from the October 23, 2018 meeting
- Variance Application No. 888, 608 Laurel Avenue, filed by Kirk Palchefsky for recommendation to the Board of Appeals.
4. Special Exception Application No. 889, 604 Main Street, filed by Christina Kirven for recommendation to the Board of Appeals.
5. Final Record Plat of Subdivision (1 – 9) Application and Resolution No. 18-11-PC, 14415 Greenview Drive, filed by CS Patuxent Greens, LLC.
Public Hearing on Application
Final Action by the Planning Commission
6. Special Exception Application No. 890, 118 Washington Boulevard, filed by SH Realty Holdings, LLC., Zaveri for recommendation to the Board of Appeals.
FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY SECOND MEETING
CITY OF LAUREL PLANNING COMMISSION
TUESDAY- DECEMBER 11, 2018
The meeting convened in the Council Chambers of the Laurel Municipal Center at 7:00 P.M., with Chairwoman Mitzi R. Betman, presiding. The roll was called with the Honorable G. Rick Wilson, Mr. John Kish, Mr. Bill Wellford, Ms. Krystiana Bonheur and Councilman Smalls present. Also present were Councilmember Carl DeWalt, Mr. William F. Goddard III, City Administrator, Ms. Christian L. Pulley, Director of Economic and Community Development, Mr. Robert Love, Deputy Director of Economic and Community Development, Mr. Nathan Grace, Planner II, Mr. Larry Taub, City of Laurel Legal Counsel and Ms. Brooke Quillen, Secretary to the Commission. There were approximately sixty-five members of the public in attendance.
The minutes of the October 23, 2018 meeting were approved as written, on motion by Mr. Wellford, seconded by Ms. Bonheur, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present as written.
The next agenda item was for Variance Application No. 888- 608 Laurel Avenue, filed by Kirk Palchefsky, 5981 Elk Forest Court, Maryland 21075. Mr. Nathan Grace stated that the Applicant was seeking approval to reduce the lot width requirements from 65 feet to 60 feet in order to sell the subject property as a buildable lot. The Variance is requested because The City of Laurel Unified Land Development Code requires a 65-foot lot width for one family detached residential buildings in the R-55 Zoning District. The subject lot is only 60 feet in width. The property is zoned One Family Detached (R-55) and is surrounded by One Family Detached (R-55) zoned lots on all sides. The total area on the site is 7,380 square feet.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at 7:03 p.m. She stated the applicant was present to answer any questions and there was one speaker signed up to speak.
Mr. Edward Ricks, 603 Laurel Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707, stated he is a lifelong resident of Laurel and 27-year resident at 603 Laurel Avenue. He is in favor of this application, however, he would like to see the applicant submit the total number of trees on the property to the Laurel Tree Board so they could be replaced or restored.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at 7:05 p.m.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to recommend approval for Variance Application No. 888, 603 Laurel Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707 with the conditions listed in the Technical Staff Report to the Board of Appeals.
Next, Mr. Robert Love presented the Technical Staff Report dated November 27, 2018 regarding the Special Exception Application No. 889- 604 Main Street–filed by Christina Kirven and Victor Thomas, 604 Main Street Laurel, MD 20707. Mr. Love stated the applicant was seeking special exception approval to operate a Smoking Lounge to be located at 604 Main St. The property is zoned Commercial Village (CV). The current use of the property is the Thomas Supply Trade Cigars store in the front of the building. Surrounding the property to the North is Patuxent Place office/retail complex, to the South is multi-family housing, to the West is The Oaks apartment complex, and to the East is multi-family housing. The property was built in 1919.
Patty Waters, 1603 Heather Heights Road Sykesville, Maryland 21784, owner of the building, cited she was in support of the cigar lounge and added there was previously one there so why would another tenant need approval again. In response, Ms. Pulley stated there was a Special Exception approval in 2014 for a cigar lounge, however it has since closed and the use of a cigar lounge is only allowed through Special Exception approval, therefore, a new application was necessary.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wellford, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to recommend approval to the Board of Appeals for Special Exception Application No. 889 for 604 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707 with the conditions listed in the Technical Staff Report.
Next, Ms. Christian Pulley, Director, presented the Technical Staff Report dated November 26, 2018 regarding the Final Record Plat of Subdivision Application- Patuxent Greens Golf Course- 14415 Greenview Drive Laurel, Maryland 20707. Ms. Pulley stated the Applicant is seeking Final Record Plat of Subdivision approval to create parcels for the development of 389 residential lots (222 townhouses and 167 single-family dwelling units), a community, and clubhouse and open space areas for redevelopment of the Patuxent Greens Golf Course. The subject property consists of 191.71 acres of land and is zoned Planned Unit Development- Existing (PUDE) and located at 14415 Greenview Drive Laurel, MD 20708.
The attorney for the applicant, Mr. William Shipp, Esquire, O’Malley Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, P.A., 11785 Beltsville Drive, 10th Floor, Calverton, Maryland 20705, expressed agreement with the staff report and with all the requirements plans and conditions.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing regarding at 7:19 p.m.
Ms. Wendy Geagan, 14103 Greenview Drive Laurel, Maryland 20708, explained concerns regarding the plats for the developments along with filling. It does not make sense to her. The land does not exist yet. She suggested it could change even more from the flood risk study by the Armycore of Engineer’s 2014 flood map.
Mr. Glenn Olsen, 14223 Greenview Drive Laurel, Maryland 20708, described this past Monday morning it took him nine minutes to make a left turn out of the development. He also saw a garbage truck run through a red light. The plats do not show the traffic circle. The land use around the plat seems to change a lot. Some of the land shows the state highway administration. He asked why the ownership of the land was changing, why does the street width vary, isn’t there a county standard of 60 feet wide. On plats four, six and nine it notes parts are private right of way. He asked who would be responsible for these streets and the alleys. On plat three, the developer said new houses would back current houses. The new houses will sell for twice as much as the existing. Mr. Olsen added that half the neighbors have already moved out.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at approximately 7:27 p.m.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Bonheur, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to approve the Final Record Plat of Subdivision Application for Patuxent Greens Golf Course-14415 Greenview Drive, Laurel, Maryland 20708 with the conditions listed in the Technical Staff Report.
Chairwoman Betman noted she is a member of the Board of Directors for the Laurel Historical Society and has checked with both the City and the City’s attorney for her to vote on this next application. She added it will not affect her decision and she is committed to the public.
Next, Mr. Robert Love, Deputy Director, presented the Technical Staff Report dated November 20, 2018 regarding the Special Exception No. 890- 118 Washington Blvd, Laurel, Maryland 20707 –filed by SH Realty Holdings LLC., 515 N. Flagler Drive Ste #1700 West Palm Beach, Florida 33401. Mr. Love stated the Applicant is seeking special exception approval to operate a Medical Cannabis Dispensary to be located at 118 Washington Blvd. The property is zoned Commercial General (CG). The current use of the property is the Tastee Diner restaurant and TD Lounge bar. Surrounding the property to the North is an office/retail space being constructed, to the South is Dingle Printing Service and a motel, to the West is the Laurel Tavern Donuts restaurant, and to the East is Animal Crackers Pet Boutique and Salon. The property was built in 1952.
There was discussion among the Commission and staff regarding the update of the previous cannabis dispensary that was previously approved. It was commented that the business is not open yet. but should be in the next 30 days. Mr. Wilson asked why is the one mile limit just in the City of Laurel, because Howard County has a cannabis dispensary right outside of the boundary line. He also asked if there was specific reason why it is only a mile. Staff advised the one mile rule is per City ordinance regulations, and only two per district are allowed per the State of Maryland. The City is part of District 21, and this would be the second and final dispensary that would be allowed in the District.
The applicant, Francesa DeMauco-Palminteri 1150 Old Georgetown Road #1535 Bethesda, Maryland 20852, thanked staff for all the work put into this project and for the recommendation for approval. She stated she sees Laurel as an opportunity to start her business. She stated she grew up in Maryland and is familiar with Laurel, as growing up her father worked in Laurel. She explained she suffers from severe anxiety and was into pharmaceuticals and eventually transferred over to medical cannabis treatment and discovered how helpful it really is. She looked at over 200 sites and this site is the first that met all the requirements by law. She added there are four in her neighborhood in Rockville and she has not noticed any negative change. She added she wants to provide medical cannabis to people who need it and provide jobs as well. She mentioned she has brought with her a colleague to speak tonight.
Ms. Ginger Miller, 609 Mattawoman Way Accokeek, Maryland 20607, a Veterans Advocate, also a veteran herself, she explained she was once homeless with her husband who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, who saw his best friend commit suicide. He was either over-medicated or under-medicated. She is a big supporter of this project. She mentioned that 22 veterans a day are committing suicide, and something should be done. She sees many veterans with issues and some of them are hiding it. This would be a great help.
The applicant, Francesa DeMauco-Palminteri 1150 Old Georgetown Road #1535 Bethesda, Maryland 20852, stated this medicine is about community and making people better. She personally has developed strong relationships with everyone she has met during her process. She has been working with the City and County on security mandates, physical security, checkpoints and the medications will be secure. They have met with the Laurel Historical Society and some of the community. What the building will look like will pay tribute to the diner she believes. The goal is to maintain the structure and refurbish the site with a clean look.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing on the application at 7:51 p.m.
Jana Levene, 418 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, representing the Laurel Historical Society. She expressed they are in no way against the sale of the property or construction of the cannabis dispensary, however, the adaptive reuse essentially destroys Laurel’s distinction as being home of only one of two remaining 1951 comac diner cars left. Ms. Levene added it feels they are left with no real options but to deal with the scraps from the diner. She stated we asked for a slowdown. That request was not granted.
Patrick Reedy, resident of Greenbelt, Maryland, is a patron of the diner; he does recognize the diner as a historical structure and fully supports the idea that it must be preserved. Lastly, he is in no disagreement with it being a cannabis dispensary.
Doug Hayes, 324 Montgomery Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, Chair of Historic District Commission, wanted to address a specific complaint that the City of Laurel has the opportunity to purchase the diner. If the City did get wind of the property being for sale two years ago, that would have been the time to do it, working with the CRA and the Laurel Historical Society. The Laurel Historical Society could have restricted any sale of this property. There was a buyer interested in moving and relocating it not necessarily in Laurel and that would have been a complete loss. Pure Hana is willing to keep the structure. He would like to see everyone use their energies to help avoid this situation in the future from other historical properties from leaving the city.
Richard Friend, 6417 Brass Button Court Centreville, Virginia 20121, stated he started a petition to save the diner with over 2,300 signatures. Laurel always had the diner that only closed on Christmas day. The City is rushing to push the sale. Everyone from Laurel knows the diner and is proud of it. The City has an opportunity to do something special; however, the City refuses to relocate the diner even though they have the resources. The City should explain why they will not do this. The oversight is that it is not historically designated. He believes the diner belongs on Main Street. He added he has no issue with the sale of the diner but the point is missed by the city to relocate it to Main Street. The timeframe is the only worry of the applicant.
Mr. Frank Kave, 327 Talbott Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707, stated he has been in Laurel since 1979. Laurel lost the drug store on Main Street. It is too bad they rush business because the diner will be gone. He does not have an issue with the cannabis dispensary but the diner should be put somewhere in the City.
Mr. Michael McLaughlin, 1013 Eighth Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, expressed he is not opposed to the medical dispensary, however, is in support of moving the diner. He said he has been in Laurel since 1967. He was a writer for the Laurel Leader. Mr. McLaughlin mentioned the moving of a home twice, once 50 feet over on Main Street and then from Main Street to Seventh & Carroll Street where it sits today. Supporting the move of the diner would be keeping of the legacy of moving structures in Laurel.
Cynthia Wood, 1111 Montgomery Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, voiced that many people are not in disagreement with the cannabis dispensary coming to Laurel. She quoted what her mother used to say, “You can’t save everything but you have to fight for what is worth saving.” The factory house that is now our museum. Avondale Mill because the City filled it with recycling paper and it burned down. The old Firehouse was damaged from the tornado and the City was going to tear it down. The Phelps Mansion, the City was going to sell it. She said her and her neighbors support Tom Dernoga, Prince George’s County Councilmember. Over 2,200 people signed the petition and if everyone donated money we would have a start to save the diner. Her family owns a crane company. She suggested the diner could be made into a coffee shop, bakery, ice cream shop or a welcome center for Laurel. The city is hurting and cannot disguard the past. Save the diner. Allow the citizens to raise funds.
Matthew Liptaw, 1311 Larchdale Road Laurel, Maryland 20708, moved to Laurel about a year ago, said it is a great place to live but the traffic is stressful. Does not understand the plan to gut the diner seems like an ignorance, and we should keep all the gems inside. He thinks the City is listening to the public but not hearing the public. He supports the petition and does not understand why it cannot be moved to Main Street. He will be moving out of the area in a year but loves Main Street and will come visit. He believes the City should preserve parts of Laurel because that keeps people coming back, and think about the future generations.
Beth Varno, 14654 Cambridge Circle Laurel, Maryland 20707, does not see anything wrong with cannabis as a medicine but it should not be at the diner. The traffic is already bad and it will get worse.
Councilmember Carl DeWalt, 422 Prince George Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, stated he considers himself an ambassador of his neighborhood and the Ward 1 community, takes his job seriously. When they came out with the solution, the Mayor, senior management staff, the owner and builder all met, however, he was not invited to the meeting and took offense by that. Decisions such as these should have the Council involvement as well. He feels the people of the community need to be heard. Pure Hana bought an acre of property and there is currently a motel there as well. There are people living at the motel there. He added he was a police officer for 28 years in Laurel, so he knows the area pretty well. There is a homeless problem in Laurel and there really is not an affordable program. He hopes we can find some new housing for the residents of the motel. He hopes the diner does not get lost in this.
Dawn Turney, 337 11th Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, she heard the buyer talk a lot about community however the applicant is not from Laurel. She stated she is a lifelong resident of Laurel as were her parents and her grandparents, who came here in 1930. The diner has been a part of the community Please help preserve the diner. She grew up there. She is not against the dispensary however; we already have cannabis dispensaries in the area.
Chairwoman Betman closed the hearing on the application at 8:21 p.m.
The applicant, Francesa DeMauco-Palminteri, 1150 Old Georgetown Road #1535 Bethesda, Maryland 20852, said there was been a lot of dialogue tonight about this project. They are asking for support and true guidance with next steps. She has tried to do everything right in the processes through the state and local officials. Lastly, she thanked everyone for the opportunity. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission granted licenses, which have 365 days, which expired a year ago. They are a year past the deadline since they were not able to make the deadline, the state has offered extensions. Every week she has to send the state updates.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to deny recommendation of approval to the Board of Appeals for the Special Exception Application No. 890 for 118 Washington Blvd Laurel, Maryland 20707 with the conditions listed in the Technical Staff Report.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:27 p.m.