Council votes to downzone 30 parcels

BLYTHEWOOD – The Blythewood Town Council passed first reading Monday evening on an ordinance that would allow Council to down-zone two R-5 parcels to D-1 and 28 R-12 parcels to D-1.

The ordinance was first proposed to help slow Blythewood’s rapid growth and the density and infrastructure issues that trail that growth, according to Town Administrator Gary Parker.

“The reason this is on the agenda and a subject of great interest is the growth that has taken place in the town and the concern about the density of that growth,” Parker said. “That prompted the initiation of an amendment to the ordinance to address that.”

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the ordinance to Town Council during their May 1 meeting, with the exception of 150 acres of the undeveloped phases in Abney Hills Estates.

“We followed up with a written description of the select parcels that might be considered for down-zoning as an alternative to deleting those districts,” Town Planning Consultant Michael Criss said. “We took that list to the planning commission, they considered it carefully and agreed with all but the last, the 31st parcel that

is the undeveloped portion of Abney Hills Estate.”

Essex Homes, the Abney Hills developer, has completed phase one of Abney Hills Estates, and construction on phase two has begun.

It was determined by the Planning Commission that down-zoning Abney Hills Estates would pull the rug out from under Essex Homes. Down-zoning the properties would raise the price of dues required by the Homeowner’s Association and could have potentially created legal ramifications for the Town Council and the Commission, Criss told Council.

“It seems to me that rocking the boat on that particular development would give a little bit of a bad taste. Probably would get us in a little bit of legal trouble, and I don’t really feel like fighting a lawsuit from a volunteer commission position,” Commissioner Donald Brock said during the May 1 Planning Commission meeting. “So I favor exempting your property from the down-zoning, kind of with the understanding that you will build in good faith.”

There were no R-8 zoning districts such as Oakhurst and Cambridge Point included in the ordinance because they have all been developed, or developers have already gotten permission to begin development. R-12 districts that are not at least 20,000 square feet were also excluded, because down-zoning those areas would result in nonconforming lots, Criss said.

“Nonconforming lots and nonconforming structures can have problems for the private sector as well as the public sector,” Criss said. “They can interfere with your title insurance, and your mortgage lender may be concerned.”

First reading passed unopposed and will be followed by a public hearing and a second reading at Council’s June 26 meeting.

 

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