Branchville Crossing Development Faces Resistance

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

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3 thoughts on “Branchville Crossing Development Faces Resistance

  1. “Affordable Housing” is the new code word for public housing. I would rather have more student housing, frankly, as students are likely to spend money at local businesses and not commit property and/or violent crimes.

    We need look no further than the affordable housing behind the College Park firehouse on Rt. 1 to see what would happen to crime rates and property values around Branchville if this were to be built. The City Council and all neighborhood groups should make strenuous objection to any sort of “affordable” housing in this area. Such projects bring nothing but profit to developers and crime and reduced property values to our community.

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    • The residents of the complex will be required to show evidence of income in order to apply for residency, so it won’t be public housing right out of the gate. I don’t see how college students are able to afford anything, after paying $1000 a month per bedroom here. Affordable housing means more household income might be available to contribute to the local economy. New and low-income families need to start somewhere, without having to resort to living in houses with 4 or 5 other people just to make the rent. If we’re going to have a public housing complex here, this is probably an ideal location for it, since the area is reasonably isolated, yet within easy reach of public transit, and police and fire services. I’m sure there will be resistance to the complex from the community, but affordable housing in itself isn’t evil, and the bad actors in the neighborhood will be easy enough to identify quickly. Do you believe all the high-density housing up and down Route 1 has somehow curbed crime, boosted the economy, enhanced property values, or has benefited anyone but the developers?

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      • Are you are suggesting that residents of public housing contribute more to the local economy than college students? First and foremost, those high-density developments on Rt. 1 have extremely high property values, and will end up contributing hugely to the City budget, which can be used to further stimulate our local economy and provide additional public safety through policing. Second, those college students (who are paying more like $500-750 a month per bedroom, not $1000) are more likely to go out to eat and shop locally (due to a lack of time and/or transportation) than just about anybody else in the City.

        It seems thls blog has a serious anti-student and anti-development bias, and would rather see College Park remain populated by the elderly and low-income. Fortunately the tides are changing in College Park and more forward-thinking individuals are looking to expand our tax base and make College Park a better, more desirable place to live.

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