Hampstead officials have given the go-ahead to the developer of a proposed 289-unit subdivision -- provided he completes vital infrastructure improvements and donates land for the long-planned Route 30 bypass.
The Town Council granted an exception at its Tuesday meeting, allowing developer Steve Walton to proceed with his Westwood Park project, despite the fact that the development has failed to meet criteria in Hampstead's adequate facilities law addressing roads and schools.
Town officials said the conditions attached to approval -- including requirements to pay for road improvements and construct a water system in the development -- will benefit Hampstead in the long run.
Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said the council was able to use the town's adequate facilities ordinance, passed in November 1995, to require that Walton take steps to offset the burden of his development on the town. Nevin estimated the value of the improvement package at $500,000.
"We've been looking for creative ways to solve problems and I think we've found that balance in the subdivision," the mayor said. "He's going to make the community an asset for Hampstead."
Walton said, "We're very happy we're on the road to being approved."
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council said Walton must agree to several conditions before receiving final approval for the Westwood Park development from Hampstead Planning and Zoning Commission at its Dec. 30 meeting.
The resolution requires Walton to:
Enter into an agreement with the State Highway Administration in which he will donate about 11 acres in the subdivision for the Hampstead bypass. The amount represents 5 percent of the land necessary for the road.
Pay $50,000 to Hampstead toward the cost of rebuilding the Houcksville Road bridge as part of a larger town project to improve the Houcksville Road-Route 30 intersection.
Build pump houses for the two largest volume wells that will supply water to Westwood Park.
Pay for the cost of road resurfacing on a portion of Panther Drive that will be damaged by construction of the subdivision.
The Westwood Park proposal has been working its way through Hampstead's subdivision approval process since 1988. The community, one of Hampstead's last major development projects, consists of 145 single-family homes and 144 condominium units between Shiloh and Houcksville roads. Walton plans to begin construction in the spring.
The Planning and Zoning Commission found that the project did not meet adequate facilities criteria because of the additional students it would send to North Carroll Middle School and the extra traffic it would generate at Route 30 and Houcksville Road.
However, the commission recommended that the council grant an exception to permit the project to go forward because of the benefits associated with its construction.
In addition to the conditions imposed by the council and the commission, Walton plans to extend Willow Street to make it the main collector road in the development. The extended road also will be the main access road to the proposed Hampstead Middle School, scheduled to open in 2001 to relieve crowding at North Carroll Middle School.
Hampstead officials said construction of the access road increases the chances that the school will be built on schedule.
"In this particular case, we have the opportunity of getting significant benefits beyond what we would normally get in a development project," said Dennis E. Wertz, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Walton said he wanted assurances included in the resolution that actions -- such as a building moratorium -- by future elected officials would not affect the progress of Westwood Park.
Nevin promised his support if a challenge to the development occurred, but said the council could not provide such a guarantee.
"That's a normal business risk you have to take when you deal with the town of Hampstead," he said.
"This is above the normal risk of anything I've ever encountered here, and I've been doing business here for 17 years," he said.
Pub Date: 12/12/96