Cluster housing rules possible due to Coolfont development
Members of the Morgan County Planning Commission took their first look at new rules for cluster development at their August 28 meeting.
The draft of a Cluster Development Subdivision Ordinance was prepared by ARRO Consulting at the request of County Planning Director Alma Gorse. ARRO is the Hagerstown engineering firm employed by the county to review subdivision applications.
Gorse said she wanted to include cluster development guidelines in the county's subdivision ordinance because that type of mixed-housing development will be coming to Morgan County, likely in the redevelopment of Coolfont by the Freeman Companies.
Without rules to address that kind of building, the planning commission would face numerous requests from developers to waive portions of the county's existing rules, said Gorse.
Principles of cluster development are included in the county's newly-revised Comprehensive Plan.
Smaller lots, more open space
According to Gorse, cluster development rules will differ from high-density development rules in two important ways: housing lot sizes will be smaller and open spaces will be protected in large chunks.
Where current rules say a developer must set aside
roughly one-half of an acre
of open space for each 10
housing units, cluster development rules would require that land to be all in one piece, rather than small bits of open space scattered around a development.
Road regulations in cluster developments would be less stringent than those in high-density developments, and housing setbacks would be smaller, said Gorse.
"We got good comments from the planners. ARRO will re-do the draft and have a more refined proposal at next month's meeting," Gorse said.
The Planning Commission will meet on Tuesday, September 25 at 7 p.m.
Cluster housing at Coolfont
The Freeman Companies' redevelopment of Coolfont Resort will likely include cluster housing along with recreation and commercial facilities, said Bob Marggraf, vice president of Freeman Companies of W.Va.
Gorse and the county's engineering firm have had several preliminary plat meetings with the Freeman Companies, as allowed in the county's current subdivision rules. Those rules specify that the developer pays for any engineering consultations.
Marggraf said he thinks cluster development will suit the land around Coolfont. Current designs specify that about 40% of the 997-acre resort will be developed with 1,200 housing units. The remaining land would be left as designated open space.
The idea for tight clusters of multiple types of housing grew out of community planning meetings at Coolfont last year, he said.
Marggraf estimated that
Freeman Companies would have state permits for their development in hand in 2008. Permits will include approvals for the development's water and sewer services, highway entrances, and lake and dam construction. The first homes could appear in 2009, said Marggraf.