Black Oak Associates presented the concept site plan for a hotel and restaurant in Eldersburg to the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission this month and are now preparing the final site plan.
Black Oak hopes to build the proposed 12,853-square-foot Candlewood Suites Hotel and a 6,000-square-foot, to-be-determined restaurant on an 8-acre site they are calling “Eldersburg Station” in the Sykesville-Freedom fire district.
And although the site plan is inconsistent with the area’s current zoning according to the 2001 Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan — restricted industrial — Bureau Chief of Development Review Clay Black told the commission that it is consistent with the zoning proposed in the 2018 version of the plan.
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The concept site plan includes two access points to the development, one entrance from Londontown Boulevard and one from Bevard Boulevard, and a plan to handle the flow of traffic smoothly will be included in the final site plan, Black said.
“Prior to the plan being submitted, [the developers were] well aware a traffic study was required,” said Black. “A traffic study was submitted, reviewed and approved by [the county, and the] State Highway Administration. And [the SHA] does not need any further review of this plan because there are no impacts they have determined to state highways.
“[Traffic] mitigation is currently being reviewed with the Department of Public Works as far as adequate methods of addressing traffic in this area,” said Black.
The only aspect of the concept site plan that required a variance, he said, was the number of floors in the 89-room hotel. In the area where Eldersburg Station will be constructed, buildings can be a maximum of 50 feet tall with three stories. The building proposed is 47.5 feet tall and four stories.
The Zoning Administration granted the variance before the developers brought the plan to the P&Z commission on Aug. 21.
As for parking requirements, the hotel requires 129 spaces — one for each bedroom and one for each employee — and the developer is providing 131. The restaurant requires one car per three patrons based on the establishment’s maximum capacity.
“They indicate that they need 184 spaces,” said Black. “The plan proposed 187. They have more than what is needed. There is no issue there as far as the parking.”
At the same site Black Oak Associates is planning its new project, the company had a plan for a shopping center in 2008 that was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and almost moved into the construction phase.
“As we say, the world changed in 2008 and 2009 with the Great Recession,” said Black Oak partner Dixon Harvey this week, “and that was put on a permanent hold.
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“We started to move dirt,” he said. “And let’s see: Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in fall 2008, stock markets started to crash — and we stopped that project in February 2008. We were very lucky that we were not building buildings at that point.”
Black Oak has developed a few other properties in the area, including Eldersburg Marketplace across the street — with a Home Depot, Giant and Kohl’s — and Eldersburg Commons, which replaced the Carrolltowne Mall with a Walmart, TJ Maxx, Ulta, Olympia Sports, Petco, Chipotle, Sleepy’s, AT&T and Jimmy John’s.
The company is new to hotels, but with help from the Carroll County Department of Economic Development and a feasibility study through the Intercontinental Hotels Group, Harvey said the group is excited to move forward with the plan after almost two years of developing the concept.
After all, Harvey said, there are no hotels in Eldersburg.
“I think that’s why the folks in Economic Development were encouraging us to pursue it,” he said. “I think that … you can’t do conferences right now, and if your in-laws are coming for a long stay, they’re staying with you.”
At the Planning and Zoning meeting where Black Oak presented the concept plan, commission members expressed concern with the height of the sign for the hotel — noting that it would make sense to have a large, tall hotel sign so that visitors could see it — and requesting the developers take the heights of nearby signs consideration for the final site plan.