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Nov. 5 vote was ‘invalid,’ Holtz writes in memo

A vote that the Charles County Planning Commission took Nov. 5 to reconsider a past decision was “invalid,” according to a memo from County Attorney Barbara Holtz presented at lask week’s commission meeting.

The commission voted 4-2 Nov. 5 to reconsider a decision made Sept. 24 not to waive road improvement requirements along the front of Fisher Farm on Penns Hill Road south of La Plata.

Holtz wrote that the vote required five commission members to vote in favor of reconsidering the vote, constituting at least two-thirds of the seven-member commission, and did not pass because only four members voted in the affirmative.

The county is only required to recognize the Sept. 24 vote, Holtz wrote.

The commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure state that a reconsideration vote requires two-thirds of the commission to vote in favor of reconsideration in order to pass.

Commission members in the majority vote at the Nov. 5 meeting argued that four out of six present members constituted a two-thirds majority; however, Deputy County Attorney Elizabeth Theobalds said the vote required five affirmative votes and did not pass.

After Theobalds and Planning Director Steve Ball left the meeting, the commission appealed the rule of the chair and voted to waive the road improvement requirements.

At last week’s meeting, commission Chairman Courtney Edmonds said he brought up the memo to remind commission members, including himself, that the commission needs to follow state and county laws as well as the commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure and that the county attorney helps to keep the county’s boards and commissions accountable to the laws they need to follow through a system of “checks and balances.”

Commission member Bob Mitchell questioned why the item was put on the agenda when not all members were present. Commission member Joe Tieger was absent from the Nov. 5 meeting.

Commission Vice Chairman Joe Richard asked for Holtz and Theobalds to come back to the commission at its next meeting with additional legal explanation of why the Nov. 5 vote did not pass.

Theobalds was not present at last week’s meeting.

Fisher Farm owner Ed Kramer, who requested the waiver and reconsideration, said he had no comment.

Road features not needed for Hunter’s Brooke, Aluotto says

Planning & Growth Management Director Peter Aluotto told the commission last week that neither a second point of access nor an interconnection with the adjacent Falcon Ridge neighborhood are required for the Hunter’s Brooke neighborhood in Indian Head.

Aluotto said planning staff agreed that Hunter’s Brooke falls under grandfathering from provisions put in place in 1996, when the subdivision regulations required a second point of access.

Plans for a second point of access to Falcon Ridge from Route 225 are receiving a review from the State Highway Administration, Aluotto said. If the SHA rejects the plans, the applicant will request a waiver at the commission’s Dec. 3 meeting for the second point of access, Aluotto said.

One hundred fifty-one lots remain in Falcon Ridge needing a second point of access. Subdivisions that have 1,000 trips or more a day, usually 100 units, require a second point of access, according to the county’s subdivision regulations.

Plans, extension approved

The commission approved several plans and provided an extension for another at last week’s commission meeting.

The commission approved a final plat for Belmont, containing two single-family lots on 90.5 acres off Jockey Court near Dentsville.

The commission approved a preliminary plan for Simpson’s Corner Overlook, two single-family lots on 7.058 acres on Route 6 near Dentsville.

The commission approved a preliminary plan for six commercial lots within Fairway Village in St. Charles at the intersection of Demarr Road and St. Charles Parkway in Waldorf. The commission also approved a final plat for one of the commercial lots within the commercial development.

The commission approved a preliminary plan for Gilbert Run, also known as Crescent Run, for 100 single-family lots on 455.944 acres on Route 6 near Dentsville. The development is clustered to accommodate 254.81 acres of open space and will contain recreational facilities such as three sitting areas, two picnic areas, two tot-lots, a sports field, four scenic overlooks and nature trails with signs.

The commission granted a one-year extension for the GlenEagles North neighborhood, a 1,059 mixed-use development on 260 acres on Billingsley Road in St. Charles in Waldorf. The new deadline is April 17.