|On the right: County planning representatives Greg Harper, Bill Fritz and Mark Graham and Rio District Supervisor Rodney Thomas met with Woodbrook residents Monday on the Arden Place site.|
Rio District Supervisor Rodney Thomas, Director of Community Development Mark Graham and County Planner Bill Fritz met Monday with Woodbrook Residents on the Arden Place site to discuss problems arising from the wrongly constructed trail to Woodbrook.
Bill Fritz opened the meeting with a summary of the project thus far. During his review, Fritz conceded that “[the path is] not built the way the site plan showed it”.
Director Mark Graham then confirmed that the access road should have stopped at the Arden Place storm water management facility (SWM). “What they showed on the approved plan was that [the road] should have stopped right down there before those concrete piers that they have built now,” he said. “They have built something more, it’s not shown on the approved plan,” he concluded.
Listen to the complete audio from the meeting. (54m)
Graham: “I’m not sure we, as the County, would have a reason for denying [the path].”
But it was Graham’s next statement that clearly angered Woodbrook residents. Referring to the portion of the path connecting with Woodbrook he said, “…because if it is on their property, I think they have the ability to do that on their own property.” he continued, “it would be a minor amendment to their plan, it would be a small change, but I’m not sure we, as the County, would have a reason for denying it,” he said.
Graham’s comment unleashed a storm of protests from residents. “So, are you saying that the Board of Supervisors over stepped their authority when they said that the path was not to connect to Woodbrook,” asked one resident. “No, not at all,” replied Graham. “this is why the Board was willing and actually interested in getting this dedicated to them, because that’s the one way the Board could assure that the developer never had the ability to make a connection,” he said.
“I’m confused,” said one resident, “because [the Board] said that the path would stop at the Carmike, so why were we told that back in April 2010 if you’re saying now that [the County] has no authority – that [Arden Place] can build anything they want on their property, why did that come up that it would stop at the Carmike.” she said. Another resident then added “There’s a disconnect here, it really seems like the Board of Supervisors made a commitment that they weren’t legally entitled to make, that’s what it sounds like… as far as restricting them on their property.” to which Graham answered “I can’t speak to that.”
Resident: “There’s a disconnect here, it really seems like the Board of Supervisors made a commitment that they weren’t legally entitled to make.”
Some residents took exception to Graham’s comment “if it is on their property,” asking why the County was not sure where the path is, and why County officials called this meeting without doing their homework first.
“It just seems very suspicious,” said Woodbrook Community Association President Susan Reed, “it’s like asking for forgiveness rather than permission,” she added.
Residents also questioned what benefits the community could reasonably expect to enjoy from the open space dedication. “The plan is a binding agreement which was given to us in return for [Arden Place] being granted the right to build the apartment complex,” said one resident. “I just don’t agree that they can just do whatever they want,” he added.
It was perhaps WCA President Susan Reed who best articulated residents concern with the process. “[We thought] we had it in black and white, not to go past the Carmike”, she said. “It’s starting to look like there’s an agenda,” she added.
Reed also talked about the effect of increased noise in the neighborhood. “We lost a lot of noise buffer with trees being cut down that didn’t need to be cut down,” she said.
“Visibly absent from the meeting were representatives from Coleway Development, the developers of the property.”
Visibly absent from the meeting were representatives from Coleway Development, the developers of the property. “The developer should be here answering to us,” said one resident who lives near the present end point of the path.
When asked if Arden Place developers were aware of the problem, Rio District Supervisor Rodney Thomas said, “I have talked to him and he said he will do anything within reason that the Board wants him to do.”
“Then your telling us that there is nothing that the County can do,” asked one resident. “We can certainly ask the developer to take this out. What I don’t have the answer for, quite frankly tonight, is can we require him to take it out,” said Graham.
But an investigation by this blog revealed that the Woodbrook leg of the trail is situated on land included in the open space dedication and therefore falls under the purview of County Supervisors.
“I would suggest that everybody be patient and let the contractor finish,” said Thomas. Residents agreed that they have been more than patient for almost two years since the project was first submitted to the Planning Commisssion. One resident pointed out that “patience” could work to the detriment of the County in establishing wrongdoing on the part of the developer. He pointed out that waiting to act could be interpreted as an implicit approval of the developer’s actions.
Reed: “To me the issue is also that you said ‘X’ in black in white, ‘Y’ happened. What good does it do to go to public meetings and get approval if this kind of circuitous logic can be applied?”
One resident asked how the County plans to enforce the requirement for the barricade requested by Supervisors in April 2010. “That’s an excellent point,” said Graham, “because what the Board only said is we were to request the developer to barricade, there was not a requirement that it be barricaded,” said Graham.
Most residents agreed, there has been a failure of process here. “To me the issue is also that you said ‘X’ in black in white, ‘Y’ happened. What good does it do to go to public meetings and get approval if this kind of circuitous logic can be applied,” said Reed.
One resident asked if the developer submits a minor amendment to the County for the trail, would it be approved administratively or could the issue be referred back to the Planning Commission for public comment. The question was also raised as to whether or not the developer has included the effect of the wrongfully constructed asphalt trail in his storm water management calculations, and if not, could the required amendment to the site plan be bumped up to a major amendment and subsequent public hearing.
The meeting concluded with a commitment by Supervisor Thomas to meet with the developer to resolve the issue. He promised to report back to the community by week’s end.