Town of Brookeville Commissioners Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2013
Present during the meeting were: Commissioner President Michael Acierno, Commissioners Sue Daley and Katherine Farquhar, Academy Manager Andrea Scanlon, Treasurer Susan Johnson and Clerk Diane Teague were present. Also present during the meeting were: President of the Planning Commissions Chris Scanlon, Planning Commissioner Debbie Wagner and Terri Hogan of the Gazette.
Report on Planning Commission Meeting: Chris Scanlon
Brookeville Farm Project – Mr. Sheehan’s attorney and architect presented sketches to the Planning Commission attempting to address previous concerns. The current scale is for 79 rooms which both the Planning Commission and the Town Commissioners deem to be too large. The Planning Commission does not see a benefit to the town that would warrant the time and resources required to rezone the parcel. Before refusing to initiate the rezoning on behalf of the town the Planning Commission is asking if there is any support on the Commission or among the residents of the town for the Brookeville Farms project. The proposed use is not permitted under existing zoning for the parcel. The town would need to create a new zone in the existing ordinance which involves public hearings and legal work. It is a lengthy and involved process. After a new zone is created it would be applied to the parcel. A new zoning map would be created. A new zone on a smaller scale than is being requested could be created if there were support. The main concerns of the Planning Commission are determining what is best for the town and providing the Owner with definitive answers about the prospects for approval/rezoning.
The new zone would be essentially permanent since it is difficult to revert to previous zoning if you are devaluing an owner’s property. According to Mr. Sheehan’s attorney Michele Rosenberg, anything smaller than the 79 rooms proposed is a non-starter. There is discussion of the project’s potential costs and benefits for the town especially in a scaled down version. The question is raised about whether a country inn with a maximum of 15-20 rooms would serve a need in the community. However, even a 12 room inn doesn’t fall under anything that is acceptable under current zoning. Mr. Acierno states that if the owner doesn’t see viability for less than 79 rooms then the town shouldn’t be affirmative about approving something on a smaller scale. Ms. Farquhar would like to see the business plan and expresses doubts about the demand for such a facility in the community. Possible benefits to the town include a proposal by Mr. Sheehan of a room tax that would accrue to the town and a site plan that would integrate the town and the inn site with walkways. Ms. Wagner raises concerns about unfulfilled promises made by Mr. Sheehan in the past. There isn’t data to determine if it would be more financially beneficial for the town to have an inn vs. four houses. It is determined that property taxes from four houses would more than cover the cost of the services the town would provide. The immediate cost to the town would be for legal counsel, and time. Mr. Scanlon states that most of the cost could be recovered from the applicant. The long term costs are difficult to determine and concern the viability of the project and the risk of having a vacant commercial property at the entrance to the town. It is
determined that any change in zoning should be strictly defined to avoid open questions about future use if the inn should fail or be sold. Ms. Wagner states that the question of broader support from town residents was settled during public hearings held when the property was purchased by Mr. Sheehan.
President Acierno states that any type of commercial development would jeopardize the bypass. The overriding concern is the negative impact any zoning change or any expressed intention to rezone would have on the long awaited bypass. Smart Growth policies regard bypass projects as incentives for growth and sprawl. For the first time the town is in an advantageous position with the county and it is a bad time to propose a zoning change. Ms. Farquhar states that State Senator Karen Montgomery has spoken out against raising any issue that would provide an excuse to stop the project. It is determined that Mr. Sheehan is free to develop the parcel for its intended use but should be advised to discontinue any development plans that requires a zoning change.
WSSC Sanitary Sewer Discharge in Brookeville:
Discussion: The sanitary sewage discharge on the WSSC property resulted in the spillage of 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage into the Reddy Branch. The spill was the result of a break in a 16” force main in Olney resulting in a discharge rate of 500 gal/minute. Ten thousand gallons is the threshold for what is considered a significant spill. WSSC attempted to keep up with the discharge by pumping it into trucks for removal. Mr. Acierno stated however that they were only able to keep up with about 10% of the effluent according to DEP and WSSC. When the offsite removal was slowed or stopped due to the weather the result was a geyser of sewage observed by Ms. Wagner. Ms. Farquhar observed that the remote location provided WSSC with cover and explains their complete lack of communication to town residents.
Mr. Scanlon reviewed the Consent Decree from a previous accident in 2004 when WSSC was sued by EPA. WSSC failed to execute any of the required responses listed in the decree. He states that WSSC should be held accountable to do what is stated in the decree. He also states that Brookeville should demand that WSSC explain what it will do to restore and monitor the environment and prevent future accidents. Questions about WSSC’s responsibility to test, monitor and restore are unknown at this point. It is resolved to send a letter to WSSC with the town’s concerns, complaints and demands for complying with the decree. It is also resolved to send a copy to the Maryland Municipal League with a request for advocacy and assistance with holding WSSC accountable. Likewise a copy will be sent to the Maryland Department of Environmental Protection for assistance with enforcing the consent decree and copies of reports.
Mr. Scanlon leaves at 8:40 pm
Financial Report: Budget
Susan Johnson: The Loan for the Brookeville Academy is under budget and the final payment will be made on March 12. Excess: The street light budget $500 was over budget because of pole work costing
$3143. Utilities have gone up and the budget number for electricity has already been met. Propane may break even. Most of the cost overruns are electricity. All other categories look good.
Ms. Farquhar asks if higher electricity costs are related to increased rentals and if rental rates should go up accordingly especially for residents. It is resolved to provide a special cake from ACE of Cakes for the Town Meeting to celebrate the mortgage payout.
Rentals are up again from earlier in the year. There have been more calls for wedding receptions. Karen has terminated her weekly rental for yoga classes creating net loss compared to last year. Up to two requests to roast a pig on the lawn. Request denied for various reasons including open flame danger. On-site pig roasting service providers are allowed.
Andrea has working copy of directory/use to confirm addresses
Susan Johnson discusses changes to the town website. The biggest change was to academy access and the Home page which doesn’t scroll anymore. Andrea and Susan want changes they requested such as changes in menu bars.
Adjourn at 9:30
Respectfully submitted by: