South County shopping center plan withdrawn

Storm-water issues prompt developer to postpone Target-anchored project

January 19, 2007|By JOE PALAZZOLO | JOE PALAZZOLO,Special to The Sun

An Annapolis developer has withdrawn its plan for a 500,000-square-foot Target-anchored shopping center in Waysons Corner, a move expected to delay the project for months.

After failing to meet two county deadlines for submitting a storm-water management plan, Petrie Ross Ventures decided to pull the site plan rather than ask for another extension, said Charles F. Delavan, a lawyer representing the company. Once the plan is redrafted to county specifications, Petrie Ross will resubmit it.

"Some storm-water management issues have proven a little more difficult to resolve than we had hoped," he said.

The withdrawal on Jan. 12 - one day before the latest deadline - resets a lengthy planning process for the retail development at Southern Maryland Boulevard and Sands Road that began last July and requires 18 approvals from state and local agencies.

It also means that a hearing scheduled for Tuesday before the Maryland Department of the Environment has been canceled.

"This is obviously a major delay in any improvements the owner has in mind for the property," said Pam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Land Use and Environment Office.

Plans call for the 128,351-square-foot Target, along with about 600 parking spaces, shops, restaurants and a bank on about 30 acres across the highway from Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.

The last major hearing on the project in August drew more than 450 people, the majority of whom loudly opposed and heckled Petrie Ross representatives. They said the shopping center would draw too much traffic, pave the way for more development and threaten the environment.

In October, the county granted the developer a three-month extension to satisfy the Office of Planning and Zoning's recommendations for managing storm-water runoff at the site.

The developer proposed carving out a private pond and installing an underground storage device to collect the runoff, but county planning officials, in their review, said the plan was flawed.

Petrie Ross had not sufficiently shown how the runoff would be conveyed to the pond or sought approval at the time for the underground device, officials wrote.

Carole Sanner, client administrator for the planning and zoning office, said Petrie Ross faces an unusually difficult task in managing runoff because of the development's proximity to Jug Bay, 1,400 acres of wetlands, forests, meadows and fields along the Patuxent River.

"They are trying to do more, to take steps that further satisfy the community," she said. "It takes a lot of time to work through those issues. Not every storm-water management plan works right away, particularly not when so near a wetland sanctuary."

Delavan declined to offer a timetable for resubmission, but planning officials said that the project would be interrupted for at least several months.

Opponents welcomed the delay but said that it would not dull their resistance to the project.

"We're glad that the developer is taking expectations of the county seriously," said George Perry, a member of the executive board of the Lothian Civic Association, which was formed last summer to oppose the development.

"When they choose to resubmit a plan, we hope that it's something that will be consistent with keeping the rural character of South County."

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