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Crystal Spring developers make a major concession - is it enough?

After five years of trying, the developers of Crystal Spring in Annapolis may finally have come up with an acceptable plan. In truth, the plan may be acceptable to the city but unacceptable to environmental groups and residents. We have written about the project and the struggle to devise a plan that meets everyone's needs before, most recently in October 2013.

The most recent changes address what the developers believe are the most troubling aspects of the plan for environmentalists. At the top of the list is the relocation of the planned continuing care retirement community building. The developers have resisted proposals to move the building away from the center of the 190-acre site. After talks with Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides, they finally agreed to move it to the northern end of the property.

The developers say, however, that the change necessarily reduces the scope of the project. The 40 apartments planned for the upper floors of the retail space will probably be cut. Moving the community center will displace the retail space and the inn and spa that, presumably, will still be part of the development. The townhouses will stay in the plan.

The plan also includes 24 cottages. They will not move, the developers said, from the southern end. A "wildlife corridor" running across the property would connect the two sites. In all, Crystal Spring will take up 60 of the 190 acres, leaving the rest as open space.

Environmentalists have expressed concerns that the development will interfere with the site's wetlands. A stream runs through the center of the property, and any development south of the stream will have an impact, they say. Moving the community center is simply not enough, according to a representative of the Anne Arundel Sierra Club.

There are other hurdles for the developers, not the least of which is the city's current lack of a planning director and city manager. As Pantelides moves closer to filling those positions, the developers hope to be putting the final touches on their proposal for a May presentation to the city.

Source: Capital Gazette, "Pantelides push sparks Crystal Spring proposal changes," Jack Lambert, April 20, 2014

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