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- Roll Call
- Approval of Minutes from the May 11, 2021 meeting
- Amended Site and Landscape Plan and Resolution No. 21-07-PC, 511 Fourth Street, filed by Abid Rizvi
Public Hearing on Application
Final Action by Planning Commission
- Map Amendment Application No. 914- Janoske Property- 7222 & 7302 Contee Road, filed by Ribera Development LLC., for recommendation to the Mayor and City Council
- Text Amendment No. 258 (Ordinance 1974) An ordinance amending the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) definitions and use tables, accessory structures, bulk regulations, wireless telecommunication facilities sections. The proposed update is part of a comprehensive review and update of the City’s zoning Code for recommendation to the Mayor and City Council.
FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTY THIRD MEETING
CITY OF LAUREL PLANNING COMMISSION
TUESDAY JUNE 15, 2021 – 6:00 P.M.
The meeting convened on a virtual platform through Zoom at 6:00 P.M., with Chairwoman Mitzi R. Betman presiding. The roll was called with Councilmember Keith Sydnor, Mr. John Kish, Vice-Chairman and Ms. Krystiana Bonheur. Also, present were Councilmember Carl DeWalt, Mr. Robert Love, Director, Mr. Monta Burrough, Planner II and Ms. Brooke Quillen, Secretary to the Commission. Mr. Darnell Butler from the Communications Department was also present. There were approximately twelve (12) members of the public in attendance.
The minutes of the May 11, 2021 meeting were approved as written, on motion by Ms. Bonheur seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present.
Next, was Amended Site and Landscape Application and Resolution No. 21-07-PC, 511 Fourth Street Laurel, Maryland 20707 filed by Abid Rizvi, 8110 Brookwood Farm Road Fulton, Maryland 20759. Mr. Burrough stated the applicant is seeking approval to add four (4) parking spaces, including an ADA parking space and a garage to the rear of the property. The parcel of land consists of 7,500 square feet and is zoned O-B-E (Office Building Existing).
There were no questions from the Commission.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at approximately 6:06 p.m.
Chairwoman Betman noted for the record there were zero (0) members of the public signed up to speak on this item.
Chairwoman Batman closed the public hearing at approximately 6:07 p.m.
The Commission, on motion by Ms. Bonheur, seconded by Mr. Kish, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted approve the Amended Site and Landscape Plan Application and Resolution No. 21-07-PC.
Next, was Map Amendment Application No. 914, 7222 & 7302 Contee Road, Laurel Maryland 20707 filed by Ribera Development LLC, 8684 Veteran Highway Suite 203 Millersville, Maryland 21036. Mr. Love stated the applicant is seeking approval to rezone 7222 & 7302 Contee Road from the R-5 (One-Family Detached) zone to the R-T (Townhome) zone. There is currently one single family home 7222 Contee Road property as well as one single family home on the 7301 Contee Road property. The subject properties were annexed into the city in 2014.
Mr. Eric DeVito, Attorney for Ribera Development, 2077 Somerville Road #310 Annapolis, Maryland 21401, stated he will prevent a brief slideshow to the Commission with an overview of the judgement criteria for rezoning, adding that he and his client concur with the staff report and conditions listed. Mr. DeVito also stated he has worked with the City of Laurel for several years on various projects and is available to answer any questions. He then introduced the applicant and property owner of this project, Mr. Gary Janoske to the Commission who wishes to speak and explain his history with the community.
Mr. Gary Janokse, 5012 Morning Star Drive Dayton, Maryland 21036, applicant and property owner, stated he has been in Laurel for a long time. In 1938, his parents married and started businesses on Contee Road including Laurel Beauty Supply and Laurel Beauty of Hair Design, adding his mother was a true businesswoman who was a member of the Main Street Business Association and Saint Mary’s Church. He and his siblings all went to City of Laurel schools including St. Mary’s Church, Laurel High and Pallotti High School. In 1980 he bought the property at 7222 Contee Road and has since seen Laurel grow immensely, however, he has never been opposed to the new developments. He explained he has strong ties with Laurel and believes development rights come with ownership of the property. This proposed project is a part of his retirement plan, which is 40 years in the making. Lastly, he stated he is available for any questions.
Mr. Eric DeVito, Attorney for Ribera Development, 2077 Somerville Road #310 Annapolis, Maryland 21401, started his presentation, explaining there are (2) two different addresses and they consist of four (4) parcels. The preliminary concept design shows where the townhomes would be located along with an environmental area in the middle of the property. Mr. DeVito pointed out there is no mixing or sharing of the access road, which was brought up at the Mayor and City Council hearing last night. He stated the Islamic Community Center of Laurel has two (2) entrances. The plan is not to exceed 70 units, though they could go up to 76 units that would be allowed. There would be a 20-foot buffer around the property and this RT zone would be a great transitional zone. Mr. DeVito added that the City of Laurel Master Plan states there would be a 10% growth and that appears to be happening. Mr. DeVito explained this project is for high end townhomes which are the trend, which could increase property values in the area. He added they did submit a preliminary traffic study which supports the project, and they plan to submit a full-scale traffic study at the next step in the process. He explained they would ensure roads would operate smoothly and not be a burden to the community. Mr. DeVito reported that in 2014, this property was annexed into the City, then there was a five (5) year hold. He explained the land use is already residential and is a mixed-use neighborhood. These types of townhouses are the trend, affordable, low maintenance but high quality. He advised the Commission that the new townhomes will look very similar to the Avery Place, and they will be compatible with the neighborhood buildings.
The Commission had no questions on this item.
Chairwoman Betman opened the public hearing at approximately 6:34 p.m.
Mr. Hayder Qaadri, 7306 Contee Road Laurel, Maryland 20707, representing as Chair to the Islamic Community Center of Laurel, states they have been in Laurel for over 30 years, with approximately 300 members and 1,000 attendees. He explained the Islamic Community Center holds multiple prayer services a day and generate a lot of traffic. The area has always been residential but at low density, single family homes, and they would like for it to remain that way. He communicated his concerns about privacy and safety. Mr. Qaadri concluded that he would like for this property to remain the R-5 zone.
Mr. Syed Hasan, 13618 Oaklands Manor Drive Laurel, Maryland, President of the Islamic Community Center of Laurel, stated his father was the first President of the Community Center, which is located adjacent to the proposed property. He added elders choose this location because of privacy and low density. Mr. Hasan explained they hold several special events a year including food drives/distributions and strive to be a great service to the neighborhood. He mentioned they believe new townhouses could make it harder to manage because there is currently an easy flow of the service road, and a zoning change would create much more traffic. He concluded by stating it would be a serious challenge with 70 new townhomes and could cause a nightmare of traffic to the area.
Mr. Martin Zhou, Hijazi Law Group LLC., 3231 Superior Lane Bowie, Maryland 20715, informed the Commission he was in attendance to emphasize the concerns of the Islamic Community Center of Laurel. He stated to rezone, there is a high standard to prove a mistake or change in character. He explained the last time a change of character was requested; the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the City of Laurel’s decision to deny the application. He added a drastic zoning change request can be very difficult to prove and he does not think the applicant can prove change of character for this project. He believes this could be ten (10) times more units and people. He does not think the applicant and developer are being reasonable from the evidence and facts provided. Mr. Zhou stated the Islamic Community Center of Laurel did reach out to the developer yesterday before the first Mayor and City Council hearing, but they did not hear anything back. He concluded by stating they are still willing to meet with them to discuss the proposed project and their concerns.
Chairwoman Betman asked for confirmation that this project would increase density by ten (10) times as stated by the previous speaker. Mr. DeVito clarified it is an increase by approximately three (3) times not ten (10). Chairwoman Betman also thanked the members of the Islamic Community Center of Laurel for attending and for their comments.
Mr. Eric DeVito, Attorney for Ribera Development, 2077 Somerville Road #310 Annapolis, Maryland 21401, stated they want to be good neighbors and they are open to meet with the Islamic Community Center of Laurel for discussion. He does not believe there is a real threat to the Islamic Community Center and implied this is a better plan then the alternative. The density is not ten (10) times more. They are keeping the use same with residential, and this keeps up with the growth plan of the City of Laurel. He explained this project is nowhere near as drastic as previously approved projects in the area. Lastly, he thanked the Planning Commission for their time on hearing this application.
Chairwoman Betman closed the public hearing at approximately 6:54 p.m.
Ms. Bonheur made a motion to recommend approval of the Map Amendment Application No. 914 for 7222 & 7302 Contee Road Laurel, Maryland 20707 to the Mayor and City Council. Chairwoman Betman seconded Ms. Bonheur’s motion. Vice-Chairman Kish voted “No”. The motion to recommend approval passed with a 2-1 vote.
Vice-Chairman Kish stated this is too much of a change for him to support. Chairwoman Betman asked staff to confirm if this motion is valid since the Commission is short staffed. Mr. Love stated majority rules in this case therefore the motion can pass with recommendation on a 2-1 vote. Chairwoman Betman asked staff to confirm with the City Attorney tomorrow. She added she hopes the developer and the Islamic Community Center of Laurel can make time to meet and discuss any issues before the next Mayor and City Council hearing.
Lastly, was Text Amendment No. 258 (Ordinance 1974), filed by the Mayor and City Council. Mr. Love explained the proposed text amendment would modify various sections of the Unified Land Development Code. The Code provides the City’s zoning requirements, subdivision regulations, forest conservation codes, and all other development-related regulations. The goal of the comprehensive review and update is to streamline the document to make it more user friendly for citizens, business owners and developers. Part I of the Unified Land Development Code update was approved October 26, 2020 and Part II was approved on January 25, 2021.
There were no questions from the Commission on this item.
The Commission, on motion by Mr. Kish, seconded by Ms. Bonheur, and carried on a roll call vote of all members present, voted to recommend approval of the Text Amendment No. 258 (Ordinance No. 1974) with the conditions as presented in the Technical Staff Report.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:01 p.m.
Approved: L. Brooke Quillen Date: 7/13/2021