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- Roll Call
- Approval of Minutes from the May 12, 2020 meeting
- Amended Site and Landscape Plan Application and Resolution No. 20-11-PC, Yogi Smile, 417 Main Street filed by Hamideh Keyhani
Public Hearing on Application
Final Action by Planning Commission
4. Final Record Plat, Westside Application No. 906 and Resolution No. 20-10-PC, Commercial, 13601 & 14501 Westside Boulevard, filed by Strittmatter Land, LLC.
Public Hearing on Application
Final Action by Planning Commission
5. Final Record Plat, Westside Application No. 905 and Resolution No. 20-09-PC, Residential, 13601 & 14501 Westside Boulevard, filed by Strittmatter Land, LLC.
Public Hearing on Application
Final Action by Planning Commission
6. Revitalization Overlay Application No. 904 and Resolution No. 20-08-PC, Conceptual Plan- 37 B Street 41 B Street, 51 B Street, 26 C Street, 32 C Street, filed by Laurel Legacy, LLC. for recommendation to the Mayor and City Council.
FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIXTHMEETING
CITY OF LAUREL PLANNING COMMISSION
TUESDAY- JULY 14, 2020 – 6:00 P.M.
The meeting convened on a virtual platform through Go to Meeting at 6:00 P.M., with Chairwoman Mitzi R. Betman presiding. The roll was called with Council President Keith Sydor, Ex-Officio member, the Honorable G. Rick Wilson, Mr. John Kish, Vice-Chairman, Mr. Bill Wellford, Krystiana Bonheur and the Honorable Frederick Smalls, Alternate. Also, present were Mr. William Goddard, City Administrator, Ms. Lou Ann Crook, Deputy City Administrator, Ms. Lena Grant, Administrative Assistant II, Ms. Christian L. Pulley, Director of Economic and Community Development, Mr. Robert Love, Deputy Director, Mr. Joshua Mitchum, Planner II, and Ms. Brooke Quillen, Secretary to the Commission. Present from the Office of Information Technology were Cinnamen Fisher, Administrative Assistant II and Yasir Sayed, Systems Analyst. Mr. Lawrence Taub, City Solicitor was also present. There were approximately (20) twenty members of the public in attendance.
The minutes of the May 12, 2020 meeting were approved as written, on motion by Mr. Wilson seconded by Mr. Wellford, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present.
The next agenda item was for Amended Site and Landscape approval application, filed by Hamideh Keyhani, 417 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707. Mr. Mitchum stated the applicant is seeking Amended Site and Landscape Plan approval to install a six (6) foot wooden fence in both side yards and the rear yard of the property that will be visible from Main Street. The property is zoned C-V (Commercial Village). The purpose of the fence is to provide privacy screening for the applicant’s property and business conducted at 417 Main Street. Mr. Mitchum reported a letter was received today, July 14, 2020 with an objection of this application from a neighboring property however staff is still recommending approval on this application.
Mr. Lawrence Taub, City Solicitor, stated he analyzed the letter received and explained that the neighboring property owner is claiming only a prescriptive easement however, there are no official documents that establish the easements. Mr. Taub does not believe we should halt approving the application due to a claim, a matter that has not yet been proven and should be handled in a court system.
The applicant, Ms. Hamideh Keyhani, Yogi Smiles, 417 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, stated she was surprised to receive an objection letter at the last minute from BMC Property Group stating a prescriptive easement that was agreed upon prior to her owning the property. Ms. Hamideh explained the history of the business property, Yogi Smiles opened its doors on January 25, 2020 and as membership was increasing the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she was forced to close however she has been hosting online classes. She stated with the uncertainty the future will bring because of the social distancing, the intention is to turn the back area into an outdoor yoga space and use a portion of the area for a vegetation garden which she believes the community would benefit from. Ms. Hamideh added the outside property had been ignored for many years before she had purchased it. She has already replaced trees and repaired the brick sidewalk that were completely unusable and a hazard to public safety.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at 6:17 p.m.
Mr. Chris Jones, Jackson and Campbell, 2300 N Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20037, representing the owners of Riverview Apartments and Orchard Town Court, explained the COVID-19 virus has disrupted a lot of communication and he wanted to be on the record to caution the applicant before installing the fence, as there are concerns regarding a prescriptive easement from the owners of the Riverview Apartments obtained over the area that consists of grass and trees. Mr. Jones said they would be happy to talk to Ms. Hamideh Keyhani off-line and find solutions to the issues at hand.
Chairwoman Betman closed the public hearing 6:22 p.m.
It was announced from the Commission and staff that there is ample time for the applicant and property neighbor to come to an agreement prior to installation of the fence since the applicant still has to go through the Historic District Commission and then Office of the Fire Marshal and Permit Services to receive approval of the design and a building permit before work can begin.
On motion by Mr. Wellford, seconded by Ms. Bonheur, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present to approve the Amended Site and Landscape Plan and Resolution No. 20-11-PC for 417 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707 as presented in the Technical Staff Report.
Next on the agenda, was the Final Record Plat Plan Westside (Commercial) Application No. 906 and Resolution No. 20-10-PC, filed by Strittmatter Land LLC, 9102 Owens Drive Manassas, Virginia 20111. Mr. Love stated the applicant is seeking Final Record Plat of Subdivision approval to create parcels for the development of four (4) commercial lots and one (1) open space lot on the property known as Westside. The subject property consists of 7.78 acres of land and is zoned Mixed-Use Transit Oriented (M-X-T).
The applicant’s attorney, Mr. Edward C. Gibbs Jr., Esquire, 1300 Caraway Court Suite #102 Largo, Maryland 20774, announced they have no presentation to show for this application and they do agree with the staff report and conditions. Lastly Mr. Gibbs stated they are available for any questions.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at 6:28 p.m.
Chairwoman Betman stated that there was one (1) community member who submitted written comments but did not wish to speak. Chairwoman Betman read their statement for the record, submitted by L. Olverson, 14300 Westside Boulevard Laurel, Maryland 20707, which read: “Please finalize the plans for this site. The weeds are growing back in--I have lived across from this area going on 4 years and it is frustrating and embarrassing to see that the west side of Laurel is still not completely developed. The residents wanted more retail-type businesses; however, if it is to be more residential-please get it done. The surrounding street also keeps getting sinkholes. The area needs finalization! We are tired of looking at a land dump.” Chairwoman Betman noted that was the end of the statement.
Chairwoman Betman closed the public hearing 6:30 p.m.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, to approve the Final Record Plat Plan Westside Application No. 906 and Resolution No. 20-10-PC for 13601 & 14501 Westside Boulevard Laurel, Maryland 20707, as presented in the Technical Staff Report.
***There was a brief disruption due to technical difficulties***
The meeting resumed at approximately 6:40 p.m. and a roll was called with the Honorable G. Rick Wilson, Mr. John Kish, Vice-Chairman, Mr. Bill Wellford and the Honorable Frederick Smalls, Alternate.
Council President Keith Sydnor, Ex-Officio member stated he was back on the call
Next on the agenda, was the Final Record Plat Plan Westside (Residential) Application No. 905 and Resolution No. 20-09-PC, filed by Strittmatter Land LLC, 9102 Owens Drive Manassas, Virginia 20111. Mr. Love stated the applicant is seeking Final Record Plat of Subdivision approval to create parcels for the development of 81 residential townhouse lots and two (2) open space lots on the property known as Westside. The subject property consists of ten (10) acres of land and is zoned Mixed-Use Transit Oriented (M-X-T).
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at 6:50 p.m.
The applicant’s attorney, Mr. Edward C. Gibbs Jr., Esquire, 1300 Caraway Court Suite #102 Largo, Maryland 20774, again announced they have no presentation to show for this application and they do agree with the staff report and conditions. Lastly Mr. Gibbs stated they are available for any questions.
Chairwoman Betman closed the public hearing 6:50 p.m.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Mr. Wellford, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, to approve the Final Record Plat Plan Westside Application No. 905 and Resolution No. 20-09-PC for 13601 & 14501 Westside Boulevard Laurel, Maryland 20707, as presented in the Technical Staff Report.
Next on the agenda, was Revitalization Overlay Concept Plan Application No. 904 and Resolution No. 20-08-PC, 37 B St., 41 B St., 51 B St., 26 C St., 32 C St. Laurel, Maryland 20707, filed by Laurel Legacy LLC 5420 Wisconsin Ave. Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Mr. Love stated the applicant (Laurel Legacy LLC) is seeking a Revitalization Overlay Concept Plan approval to develop six (6) mixed use buildings that include 73 multifamily rental units, commercial storefronts, parking, and open space areas. The subject property currently is located on five (5) lots at 37 B St., 41 B St., 51 B St., 26 C St., and 32 C St. The property consists of approximately 1.47 acres of land. The current zoning of the property is Commercial Village (C-V).
Mr. Ronald Eichner, Senior Partner/Owner/Developer of New Legacy Partners LLC, 5420 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, introduced his team to the Commission and explained his commitment to sustainable development. He provided a brief overview of the project goals stating there will be 73 units total with a variety of different building types; a 5-story elevator building, 3-story walk ups, 2-story muse buildings that will look like townhouses but will essentially be apartments. The development will have 73 parking spaces and three ADA (American Disabilities Act) spaces. This location is a five-minute walk to the train station and is within the Patuxent River transit-oriented development zone, it also is between Main Street and Riverfront park trails, facing small scale retail on C Street and an underutilized service alley. The overall goal is strategic place making. This project idea is opposite of a gated community, the idea is to bring people together with co-working spaces and cafes and to be unique to the Historic District as well.
Mr. Bryan Phillips IS Architects, 1400 N. American Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, stated it is a privilege to come to a new city and excited about the site challenges. A lot of cities have made great uses of their alleys. The slideshow showed the site strategy to include diagram 1; open space, diagram 2; buildings and diagram 3; parking. The next slide was an overall site plan that showed greenspace, buildings and parking. He explained this project will have a plaza feel with pedestrian connectivity with a couple pod parks along the edges of the plaza. There will be some commercial spaces but not enough to compete with Main Street. The next slide showed a view from Tolson Alley- Approach from Main Street. He added they have experience with sustainability development. He is happy to take any questions at the end of the presentation.
Mr. Jonathan Fitch, 1608 Allision Street NW Washington DC 20011, noted the basic idea is that connection and activation go together so there will be connection all throughout the site in this project with shared space partially with Tolson Alley. The connections will activate Tolson Alley and increase activity on Main Street. The presentation provided a visual sample of the courtyard that will have a slopped lawn, trees, flexible seating areas, permeable pavements and entry planting with seats. The pedestrian walkway will feature raised planters with lush greenery and alley pathways that will give the area a homey feel. If everyone involved is on the same page this project can be as successful as it meant to be, and he applauded the developer for the idea of the project.
Mr. Ronald Eichner, Senior Partner/Owner/Developer of New Legacy Partners LLC, 5420 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, mentioned parking meets all the code requirements for this zone and he is confident parking will be provided adequately. There is nearby parking that exists already also noting that a vibrant downtown doesn’t allow for Hollywood parking. This development is geared and will be marketed towards walkability on Main Street and to individuals who bike, use uber/lift or other micro transit programs; to those that prefer an urban environment. They are comfortable with the current parking plan. Additionally, there will be bike storage and possibly a bike sharing program for residents. He described some of the Main Street connection ideas to include a painted walking path, food trucks, trees, overhead canopies and outdoor farmer’s markets. Mr. Eichner reported he and his team agree with the technical staff report and it has been a pleasure working with the City staff on this project.
Chairman Betman cited there is no public hearing required for this type of application however, there was one member of the public submitted comments for the record, from Ms. Abbie Chessler, 29 C Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, “As owner of a commercial property, 29 C Street, directly across from the site on C Street I would like to know what measures will be taken to: 1. Protect my property from damage during the construction process, from trucks, heavy equipment, noise and vibration damage as well as protection from digging and utility work. During construction of C Street Flats our property suffered cracks to our underground foundation, evacuation due to a gas leak 10' in front of our entrance and utility repairs to our gas and electrical service due to damage from construction. 2. Mitigate physical impacts and noise that negatively affect ability of my business to function. I do not object to the development of this property. But I do need to know what the responsibilities of the developer are and what are the responsibilities of the City to make certain my property and business are not damaged by the construction of this project.” Chairwoman Betman noted that was the end of the statement.
Mr. Love stated they would have to meet all the building and OSCA (Occupational Safety Council of America) regulations to limit disruption to neighboring properties, adding that the applicant can speak on that as well.
Mr. Ronald Eichner, Senior Partner/Owner/Developer of New Legacy Partners LLC, 5420 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, added there will be considerably less construction along C Street than what was done for the C Street Flats project as he was told by the civil engineer. The construction documentation of maintenance will cover pedestrian and vehicular plans. Additionally, they will closely monitor their contractors work on the site and hold them accountable when necessary.
The Honorable Mr. Rick Wilson expressed excitement for this project and thinks it will be a great addition to the community, this is exactly the kind of development they were thinking of when they updated the City of Laurel Master Plan. Mr. Wilson asked the developer to put in as much sustainability as possible since this project is so close to the river and consider using solar on the roofs, install stations for electric cars and forest pavers in the parking lot is strongly encouraged. Encourages pervious surfaces all over the project. He pointed out the water management at Clarksville Commons has a greenhouse project on their roof and a green wall which is very cool, just to name some ideas.
Mr. Ronald Eichner, Senior Partner/Owner/Developer of New Legacy Partners LLC, 5420 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, responded he is not familiar with the Clarksville Commons however everything will be taken into account, all the suggestions mentioned tonight and they will see what works and what might not with this project however they are all on the same page regarding creating a sustainable oriented project.
The Honorable Mr. Frederick Smalls spoke about the traffic impact study and is interested in the C Street, B Street and Main Street intersections as they are difficult to pull out onto Main Street. Mr. Smalls suggests for staff and the applicant to look at the setbacks and parking setbacks. He noted he is concerned about the people that already park on the street now once the project is done there will be more vehicles parking on the street. A portion of this location is in the Arts District, encourages enhancement of visible art in Laurel. Front facing doors, art displays, galleries, etc. is something that is needed in that area. What are the impacts of the existing businesses on Tolson Alley, how will you work with the business owners and has there been any communication with them?
Mr. Mike Lenhart, President, Lenhard Traffic Consulting, 645 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard Severna Park, Maryland 21146, explained they did conduct a traffic study and looking at the sight distance, one difficulty found was the existing buildings come out close to the street and there are already cars that park on the street. Therefore, installing an all way stop sign would help elevate this issue and eliminate any sight blockage, this has been requested and discussed with the City of Laurel
Mr. Ronald Eichner, Senior Partner/Owner/Developer of New Legacy Partners LLC, 5420 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, responded stating the live/work units would be perfect for art display and they are looking into galleries and artwork in spaces. Regarding existing businesses on Tolson Alley, they will work with business to limit impact. Mr. Eichner mentioned in the long term this could help those businesses because it will bring more people and opportunity and they may be thanking him in the future.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Wilson, seconded by Ms. Bonheur, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to recommend approval of Revitalization Overlay Concept Plan Application No. 904 to the Mayor and City Council with the conditions as presented in the Technical Staff Report.
The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Approved: LBQ Date: 10-20-2020