To the Editor:
In a Sept. 28 letter to county supervisor John Foust, GFCA President Eric Knudsen detailed GFCA's opposition to the Brooks Farm development as currently proposed. The letter, approved by the GFCA Executive Board, asks the supervisor to take a public stand against the development. It cites potential negative impact on wells, pollution and storm water management in the area’s sensitive watershed. In addition, GFCA is opposed to the creeping increasing density caused by such developments and the impact this has on open space, traffic and infrastructure.
In May 2015, the GFCA membership approved, by a significant majority, a resolution opposing the rezoning from R-A to R-E, requested by the developer Basheer and Edgemoore, and instead supporting a rezoning to R-C, which would allow homes on 5-acre allotments rather than the 2-acre allotments allowed under R-E.
The Great Falls Citizens Association continues to oppose the proposed rezoning of the 52 acres of Brooks Farm from RA to RE for a cluster subdivision in the heart of our community. While the applicant, Basheer and Edgemoore, has amended its proposal with the county staff several times and reduced the number of lots from 23 to 20 homes on approximately one-acre lots, we continue to believe that the property should be developed as a subdivision with fewer lots, as detailed in the GFCA resolution of May 2015.
Specifically, the resolution supports five-acre zoning category RC, for Rural Conservation, which would permit construction of 10 houses.
We believe that the current proposal for 20 homes could adversely affect wells in the neighboring subdivisions, increase pollution and overflow in the downstream private lake, and further erode the already damaged Pond Branch stream valley. Large, clustered structures on lots of about one acre will increase the speed of runoff due to greater impervious area on steeper slopes.
As we have studied the effects of stormwater and nutrients on our many sensitive stream valleys, we believe that the methods currently used to protect them and the Chesapeake Bay will need to become more stringent and should be applied in this case. There are numerous lakes in Great Falls that have become clogged with sediment from years of storm water runoff and nutrients from excessive upstream development. Outside experts assisting our homeowners associations have come to the conclusion that the proposal for 20 homes will not be protective of the downstream lake and stream valley.
We also feel that the proposed subdivisions will further erode the semi-rural character of Great Falls through the gradual increase in overall density. Under the current plans, there would be 0.38 dwelling units per acre, as compared to the existing average density of 0.307 dwelling units per acre.
Please demonstrate your continued leadership and support for our community of Great Falls with a statement and action opposing the rezoning of Brooks Farm as currently proposed.
M. Eric Knudsen