Sunday, February 26, 2006

Museum Row Comments

For those new to blogs, I want to draw your attention to the great response in the comments section of my previous post on Museum Row. Let me first thank everyone who took the time to comment, either via the comment section or to me personally via email.

Let me take a moment here to try to answer some of the direct questions.

1. Karen takes me to task for (among other things) short shrifting the width of the project in my overhead shot. I agree, but no spin was intended. My picture was liberated from Microsoft's live local bird's eye view for the site. I just could not move far enough west to take in the entire property. I'm sorry if anyone got the wrong impression.

UPDATE 27 Feb, 5:57pm: New photo looking S. New Photo looking SE.

2. Dawn asks about the role of the HDC on revitalization cases. It was my understanding that the revitalization overlay zone approval is ultimately a decision of the council. But upon further review of ordinance 1423 signed by me as Council President in March 2004, I find that the HDC can uncategorically deny the application in the following in section 20.32.1(n):

"Revitalization overlays are not permitted by right, but reflect a negotiated development agreement that is unique to a specific proposal, or development that reflects the applicant's ability to achieve the goals and objectives of this alternative form of development. The Mayor & City Council is not obligated to approve any form of optional development is it concludes that the proposal does not meet with the purpose and intent of these regulations. Approvals within any overlay does not usurp or diminish the jurisdiction of the City's Historic District Commission, if the overlay is located within their jurisdiction.

Dawn, I got it dead wrong in my post. I apologize for my error.

3. I don't know how to answer Joe Wall's interesting and well thought out comments concerning squandered opportunities for appropriate development Laurel. Other than to ask; Joe, if the current design is so wrong, what do you think will work on the site? I also want to give Joe's life in Laurel website a plug.

4. Mike Sarich took me to task in a private email for saying "most of the speakers" were opposed to the design. He said that ALL of the speakers were opposed to the design. He is correct. I did not mean to mislead anyone, I was only allowing for Bob DiPietro's comments. Bob was one of the speakers in my mind. But all of the speakers other than Bob were indeed opposed. Thanks for the correction, Mike.

5. Jim McCeney, always a gentlemen, also wrote to me privately to tell me that he thought I was wrong. But even though we disagree on the design of Museum Row, we can still agree that we both want what we think is best for Laurel.

That is all any of us can do. To move forward on this case, we've got to respect the opinions and motivations of each other. Even if you think my architectural tastes and wrong-headed opinions are all wet, I hope everyone understands that I want the best for Laurel. I don't believe that insinuations that the developer is greedy or that there is some sort of improper good old boy network at work in this case is the best way to make progress.

Thanks to everyone, readers and commenters alike. Please feel free to comment here or via other channels. We need to keep the light of honest dialogue burning brightly in Laurel. -grw


Ken Skrivseth said...

To put the mass of this thing in perspective, our house at 421 Prince George St. is on 1/6 of an acre approximately, and it is pretty good size. And it is about as big a residence as you would want to put on a piece of property that size. There is also a one storey 16 x 22 garage in the back.

Now take the proposed Museum Row. I am told it is on 3/4 of an acre and that each of the nine proposed dwellings will roughly have the footprint of our 421 PG St. house. And to boot, these new dwellings are actually 3 storeys high, not two like our house. If my numbers are right then the proposed dwellings will occupy about 100% more footprint than 421 PG St., which is already occupying a large space, and on top of that each unit with an extra floor will have the added square footage and mass that comes with that.

Too big, driveways in the wrong place, drawings not consistent, and the spokesperson for the contractor has so far successfully dodged the issues of the case with the gift of gab.

There is a house on the 300 block of PG St. with a dual driveway. Now please everyone drive by that place and picture that multiplied NINE times.... Let's get the size down and the driveways in back!

'Nuf said for now on my part.


Anonymous said...

What is wrong with having 6 townhouses paired up or 3 +3? The developer is not willing to budge on that point. It would decrease the project mass by 33%. That I could live with. But the real reason he won't drop to only six units has to do with the sale price and what his bottom line will be with only 6 units for sale.

Mike Sarich said...

Rick makes an interesting point regarding the HDC vs. Overlay Area rules. Our City Attorney, Bob Manzi is working on an opinion regarding this apparent contradiction. As soon as it is ready, I will post it on the Main St. lists.

As everyone knows, I believe that HDC approval should be taken very seriously and as constituted, I will not vote in favor of this project. I believe there is much more work to be done before this project passes muster.