Appellants To The Commons At Newpark Responds To The Council's Decision
One of the major appellants against the Commons at Newpark project says he accepts the decision by county council on Wednesday, which affirmed the plan.
Chris Eggleton says he wishes success for the Commons project, since that could mean success for Newpark and Kimball Junction.
On Wednesday, the County Council unanimously overturned an appeal against the Commons project and upheld an approval from the County Manager. The proposal calls for a building with seven townhomes, up to 43 feet, west of the Newpark amphitheater.
In an e-mail to KPCW, Eggleton said the developers, Gary Crandall and sons Matt and Ryan, have the full right to build the project.
Eggleton, one of the appellants in the group Preserve the Newpark Plaza, said the goal all along was to make sure the plan was clearly within the Development Agreement’s architectural design and town center intent.
He said he was disappointed that the agreement wasn’t “more crisp” in an ability to curtail or reshape the project in a beneficial way. He was proud the debate showed the community’s affection for what Newpark has become.
He said after 15 years, he has a personal connection to Newpark. He said he apologized if during the discussion “remarks, made from passion and conviction, characterized the application as detrimental to the town center, or implied mistakes made by the county staff.”
Meanwhile, we talked to Council Member Chris Robinson, who said his vote for the Commons was governed by the Development Agreement.
“The Newpark Development Agreement had a lot of expressed language that said that it was intended to be as flexible as possible. The configuration, and densities and location of uses was subject to change. The whole course of the last decade and a half of how Newpark has evolved has taken advantage of that flexibility. The other part of that equation is, unless there is express language prohibiting certain things then they’re allowed.”
The two specific debates focused on the height of the building and what would be on the ground floor.
“The two issues that people were having concerns with were: one, having ground level residential use on Main Street; and two, arguing that the Development Agreement didn’t allow more than three stories. Even though the agreement says that the maximum height is 45 feet, unless the DRC (Development Review Committee) approves something higher. I didn’t believe, nor did any of my colleagues, believe, nor did the planning commission, nor did the county manager believe that this proposal was forbidden by the Development Agreement. After I think this was our third meeting we approved it.”
We asked him about his own personal viewpoint of the design.
“I think that it would have been preferred if they could have put commercial on the lower level. I don’t dislike the building I like the way it is. The top level only exists on the West side so there’s a stepping effect as you go east. I appreciate the fact that the developers who own the Sundial Plaza—and the amphitheater there and the original building actually encroached into the amphitheater—they steered away from it and kept their footprint tight in an east-west direction so that as much of the plaza is protected as possible.”
Robinson said the project isn’t perfect, but he’s not losing any sleep over it.
Other council members asked the Crandalls if they would put a little commercial in the building, or if they could legally preserve the amphitheater space, which they own.
“I don’t know if they’re going to do anything to put commercial on the project. They’ve been out working on this project for a couple of years and if I were they I think I would want to just—they could have done commercial all along there’s a reason they didn’t and that is that they didn’t think the market was there for it. As for the plaza I think they got the message and I think they want to preserve it. I don’t think they have any more density to develop anyway. I think they will likely take steps—they wanted to have a work session with us to discuss that. Whether they do it with us or with the county planning commission I don’t know.”