Reserve at Quiet Waters Wins Reluctant Approval
The controversial development received an approving vote from city planning commissioners Thursday night.
A new residential development adjacent to Quiet Waters Park received reluctant approval from the Annapolis Planning Commission Thursday night.
The Reserve at Quiet Waters, a 158-unit development off Annapolis Neck Road, was approved by a 5-1 vote, with Chairman David DiQuinzio dissenting.
The measure passed with a near-record 48 conditions, including a requirement that the developer foot the bill if a traffic light on nearby Forest Drive is needed within the next five years.
Commissioner Robert Waldman said the decision did not come easy for him, but he had to abide by the terms of the City Code, which The Reserve’s plan followed.
“This is not something I’m happy to see built in the city of Annapolis,” Waldman said. “But I don’t have any choice.”
Before the vote, Waldman listed the final 12 conditions before the vote, which included tightening some of the 36 conditions made by city staff, and required the developer to place a bond amount aside to pay for a traffic light on Forest Drive.
How to mitigate traffic at this development was, as Commissioner Jim Urban said, “the big elephant in the room.” As it stands, a traffic signal is not needed at the intersection of Forest Drive and Annapolis Neck Road, but traffic engineer Rodney Plourde said by the time the property opens, it will likely be required.
To that end, Waldman fought to have someone foot the bill, and didn’t want it to be the city. However, Planning Director John Arason said the county would ultimately have a say on anything that occurred on Forest Drive, and they were inconclusive on a signal being needed for the development.
He cautioned the commission away from stepping on the county’s toes on the matter.
“I don’t know if the planning commission should get involved in the management of a county road,” Arason said.
The public hearing portion of the measure concluded at the last meeting, ending a parade of concerned citizens who lined up for hours to speak against The Reserve. But developers still took verbal blows on Thursday—this time from commissioners.
DiQuinzio, the only commissioner to vote against the measure, gave the developer's plans a scathing review. Though the developer made several concessions during the lengthy review process, there were still not enough, he said.
“What I see is a 20 century development trying to move forward in the 21st century,” DiQuinzio said.
Urban said it didn’t seem like the developer paid much attention to the lives of those who would live in the houses there. He pushed for a number of changes, including alterations to open space, unit numbers and fauna in his talks with developers.
“You’re trying to build a product," Urban said. "We’re trying to build a community.”
The developers attempted to assuage commissioners' concerns by noting that they had met or exceeded the city’s own requirements for developments of this type.
Attorney Jerome Feldman, spokesman for the developers, said they had spent three years working on this piece, and they had agreed to all conditions, with a tone that implied “enough is enough.”
“We’ve incurred a lot to come up with a plan that is approvable,” Feldman said.
Commissioner Wilford Scott said he ultimately agreed with his fellow commissioners, adding that he felt restricted by the city’s code in what the commission could do.
However, Scott also said the development may do some good for nearby Quiet Waters Park. He also said he did not think traffic on Forest Drive would be impacted as badly as some seemed to think.
“I don’t think it’ll hurt the park," he said. "I think it’ll help the park in some respects.”
With planning commission approval finally reached, the development will move to the Board of Appeals. But the date for their review of The Reserve is not yet known.