Representatives from the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department attended the NCPCA meeting on Thursday evening, presenting their concerns about Cruz Development Corporation’s updated apartment building design, located between Branchville Rd and Route 193.
The new concept, developed by Cruz after community concerns were expressed about the initial “L-shape” design, places the planned apartment building closer to Route 193, but puts a corner of the 7-story building directly in front of the fire department’s access ramp.
The initial design of the building, presented to the City Council in November of 2014, placed half the apartments along Branchville Rd, and well away from the fire house. However, the remainder of the building would have backed up to the back yards of several houses in the neighborhood, alarming residents. The new concept was intended to address those concerns, while still attempting to maintain adequate parking for residents, and respecting various right-of-way and zoning restrictions of the property.
Cruz has previously stated in community discussions that they are willing to work with the fire department to address any access issues related to the development.
Branchville VFD filed a lawsuit against Cruz Development in May, apparently disputing the ownership of part of the Branchville Crossing property which the department had tried to acquire from the State Highway Administration in 1987. That sale was denied, but it appears that SHA turned around and sold the property to Cruz several months later.
While there are some legitimate concerns about the new apartment building, I feel this is the type of project we really should be supporting in College Park. It is an affordable housing project, rather than student housing, and as such the development company will receive a Federal tax credit, which would not demand additional tax incentives from the City. The concerns about the renovated design might be addressed by returning to the original concept’s L-shape and location, but instead of a 50-50 split, perhaps a 75-25 split of the property along Branchville Rd would minimize the impact on neighboring houses, while still allowing the fire department ample room to maneuver their vehicles.
What are your thoughts about the proposed development? Click the link to view the information provided to the City back in November 2014. Branchville-Xing