Zoning Map Gets First OK

Cobblestone Makeover Clears P.C. Hurdle

BLYTHEWOOD – After a promised meeting with residents of Cobblestone Park last month, developer D.R. Horton brought a proposed zoning map amendment for the neighborhood before the Planning Commission on Monday evening that was unanimously approved and recommended to Town Council for approval. The matter will go before Town Council for first reading on Oct. 28.

The proposed zoning map amendment calls for a revision of the existing University Club/Cobblestone Park Planned Unit Development (PUD) that will reduce the total number of allowable residences from 1,250 to 1,142, converting some areas that had been slated for multi-family units into single-family unit developments. Near the front of the neighborhood, as well as in the middle, some tracts are currently zoned for 24 units per acre and would have included apartments, Horton representative Ben Stevens said. Instead, Stevens said Horton plans to build no more than 10 town home units per acre in those sections, limiting to 112 the number of multifamily units that can be built.

“This will make for a less dense, more attractive look overall for the neighborhood,” Stevens added. The original zoning for Cobblestone Park was approved in 2003.

In addition, Stevens requested that 2.4 acres of property where the tennis courts are located be rezoned to R-4 for a model home court featuring five higher-end model homes that would be adequately screened with landscaping. Stevens said the tennis courts are in bad shape and that the model homes court would improve the parcel.

While some Cobblestone Park property, including the entrance, is assigned to a Town Center zoning district, the approved amendment would fold all the neighborhood property into the new PUD zoning district.

The zoning amendment process has brought emotional responses from residents in the neighborhood, including members of the Town Council and Planning Commission who reside in Cobblestone, some of whom control the vote on whether to approve Horton’s request for the zoning amendment. Three of the five members of Town Council and three of the seven members of the Planning Commission live in Cobblestone.

On Monday night, Town Councilman Tom Utroska addressed the Commission during public comment time, saying he was speaking as a Cobblestone Park resident, not as a Councilman. He said the meeting between the residents and Horton representatives on Sept. 29 was generally contentious.

While he thanked Horton for meeting with the residents, Utroska found fault with the size of the drawings Horton presented for the residents to examine and said residents were worried that a proposed model home court might depress home values in the neighborhood. He also complained that residents had too short of a notice for the meeting, but noted there was a good turnout with about 60 residents attending.

“It’s up to the Commission to decide if there will be an open public hearing about the zoning change and about the addendum to the PUD,” Utroska told the Commissioners.

Later in the meeting, the Town’s planning consultant, Michael Criss, said it is the Council who is charged with conducting zoning map amendment public hearings.

“Under state law, Council can delegate public hearings to the Commission,” Criss said, “but so far Council has chosen to hold those zoning map amendment hearings themselves.”

First reading will be held at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting on Oct. 28.

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