Council Takes More Testimony On Proposed Land Use Changes In Urbana

It’s expected to make a decision next week.


Frederick, Md (KM) Additional testimony was taken Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council on proposed land use changes in the Urbana area.

Developer Tom Natelli has asked the county to reduce the employment area in the Northern Town Center MXD to 32-acres and expand the residential area. However, the original plan to build 610 homes would remain.

In the Southern Employment District MXD, the developer wants rezone 210 acres of Office/Research/Industrial and add to the MXD. He also plans to build 700 age-restrict homes on 210 acres. The residences would be for senior citizens.

Natelli also wants to increase the number of homes in the Villages of Urbana PUD from 3,013 to 3,088. They would be located within the Market District of the PUD.

Several residents brought up the issue of the potential for overcrowded schools if this development goes forward. “Urbana High is currently at 104% capacity; Urbana Middle at 97%; Centerville {Elementary School} at 149%; Urbana Elementary at 140%. What will the numbers be after 610 homes and the apartments are finished. A new elementary school is on the horizon, but what about a new middle school or high school. Where will the money come from? What if the age-restricted is all age,” said Pam McKay.

Matt Subert with Residents Against Landsdale Expansion (RALE) offered a solution. “Instead of spreading out more homes in Northern MXD, the county should be asking the developer to proffer land for future school sites, either a high school or a middle school, or perhaps even a combined 6 through 12. At a bare minimum, it would be prudent for the county to discuss the situation with FCPS {Frederick County Public Schools} before acting on this combined application,” he said.

But there was support expressed for the rezoning. Urbana businessman Charlie Seymour said “We need a vibrant residential base in downtown Urbana.  We need population growth to be able to attract future businesses and ultimately more walkable office and retail employment.”

Victor Montavo of Urbana echoed those comments. “We need add more residents to increase our density and attract the right business,” he said.

But the question came up regarding the proposed 700 homes for the senior population. “My biggest concern is the lack of confidence that I have in the proposed 700-home age-restricted community remaining age-restricted,” said Steve McKay, President of RALE. “I’m not doubting Mr. Natelli’s integrity. I believe he will try to build an age-restricted community. However, he may not succeed or may not succeed quickly enough leading him to come back to the county requesting the age restriction be lifted. We’ve seen it before.”

Natelli said if he did that, he would have to start the process all over again. “We would to go back through this entire process,” he said. “We would have to come back before the County Council and start this process all over.”

The Council on Tuesday night closed the record on comments on this application.

The panel is expected to vote on this rezoning on Tuesday, March 7th.


By Kevin McManus