Waugh Chapel plan gets mixed reviews Some praise amenities, but planners, others want more trees saved

April 01, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

West County community leaders gave mixed reviews yesterday to a plan that mixes senior housing with shopping, a recreational facility, offices and restaurants.

Several praised the Village at Waugh Chapel for bringing much-needed senior housing and services to their area and the developer for listening to the community. But the plan kills too many oaks, poplars and sycamore trees and destroys other natural elements of the 71-acre tract, observers and county planners noted during a hearing.

Planned under new rules

Proposed for the corner of Route 3 and Waugh Chapel Road near Crofton, the village would be the first "suburban community center" developed under legislation requiring community input,

exceptional design and a mix of uses on a parcel.

Two months ago, the director of planning and code enforcement rejected the plan submitted by Robert DeStefano's Sturbridge Development Co. as being too like any other strip shopping center. The designers overhauled it, adding a recreation complex in place of movie theaters, creating a Main Street-style shopping area, and adjusting walkways to make the site "pedestrian friendly."

Steve Cover, PACE director, must now decide whether to reject the proposal, ask for more changes, or allow the project to move ahead in planning and design.

The county should require preservation of more of the older trees and maintain a high standard for landscaping, said Katharina DeHaas, president of the Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association. "With a little bit more effort from the county and the developer, this can happen," she said.

How many trees?

The plan calls for preserving 5 acres of forest, far short of the 10.45 acres of preservation required under county zoning law for that size parcel.

Sturbridge officials say they are trading the pond and an office building close to shopping for some of the trees.

The county has already given the developer a break by allowing commercial development on land zoned residential, said Steve Carr, president of the Severn River Association.

"He's being asked to do more because he's been given something," Carr said. "He should be able to incorporate those trees."

4 Others at the hearing applauded the development.

"The only thing we would ask is that it get going," said Robert Johnston, vice president of the Greater Crofton Chamber of Commerce.

Sturbridge officials have said they would like to break ground on the $45 million to $50 million development this summer.

Crofton residents ready to give up their houses and yards but not their community will particularly like the senior housing, said Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association.

Hal Counihan said he and his neighbors in the Gambrills community of Bretton Woods were looking forward to not having to drive all the way to Annapolis Mall.

"You saved us approximately 20 minutes' drive time for the amenities our community needs," said Counihan, president of the Bretton Woods Homeowners Association. "It's time to take Waugh Chapel's feet out of the fire."

Pub Date: 4/01/97

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