Conflict over Turf Valley expansion escalates

Lawyer calls critics `incorrect' on facts

foe implies project is done deal

March 01, 2006|BY A SUN REPORTER

The discord over the proposed expansion of Turf Valley has been at fever pitch for months, but it is intensifying with each side accusing the other of improper tactics and skewing the facts.

The attacks come in response to formal, written summations filed a week and a half ago after six months of quasi-legal hearings on the project.

"Unfortunately, the opposition is attempting ... to challenge the entire Turf Valley project and to reverse decisions made years ago," Richard B. Talkin, an attorney representing the developer, writes in a response to the summation filed by critics.

He says the critics are "incorrect" in both their understanding of the regulatory role of the Planning Board and the "legal and factual matters" governing the case.

No response

The opposition chose not to file a response to Talkin's summation. But their chief spokesman, Frank Martin, told The Sun that the county is engaged in "back door" relationships with developers and is determined to ramrod the project without a thorough review of its implications on residents and taxpayers.

The Planning Board is scheduled next week to decide whether to approve a fourth comprehensive sketch plan filed by the developer, Mangione Family Enterprises. The plan would:

Expand Turf Valley by 119.7 acres -- about 100 of them in the development's residential section, and the rest in the multiuse district. The planned community now has 689 acres.

Phase in 239 housing units, 174 of which would be in the residential section and 65 restricted to the multiuse area. The additional units would not increase the overall density of the development. Turf Valley is now zoned for 1,151 units.

Permanently relocate nine golf course holes. Those would provide buffers for the homes and free land in the multiuse area for development.

Improve traffic flow with the realignment of Resort Road, a major street in the development.

The opponents, Talkin writes, "failed to understand the statutory scheme" of the property, which is zoned PGCC, or Planned Golf Course Community. Turf Valley is the only development in the county with that zoning.

Regulations

Talkin writes that the development adheres to all county regulations and that the Planning Board is tightly restricted in what it may consider when evaluating the sketch plan.

Martin said County Executive James N. Robey is friends with Nicholas Mangione, the patriarch of the developing company, and is determined to win approval for Turf Valley's expansion.

"It's how business gets done," Martin said. "I give you money to get elected, you approve my projects."

`Rewrite history'

He accused the Department of Planning and Zoning of being under Talkin's thumb, and he said Talkin "was trying to rewrite history in his summation."

Those attacks complete a clean sweep for Martin, who openly challenged the integrity and competency of the Planning Board.

Talkin, in his written response, says the critics are resorting to obfuscation because they lack any evidence that Mangione's plan is inconsistent or in violation of any county regulation.

"Mere bald allegations of possible future conditions is not sufficient evidence on which the Planning Board should act," he writes.

`Not applicable'

"The opposition has failed to present facts to support their allegations," he says. "They seek to craft into the [planning] process a review and criteria that are not applicable under the law."

The Planning Board is widely expected to approve Mangione's plan. Even Martin acknowledged that prospect several weeks ago, and vowed to file an appeal.

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