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Council to Discuss Branchville Crossing Development

The City Council will discuss the Branchville development at tonight’s worksession meeting.

Recently, the City has received notice from DHCD ( Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development) of an application for $1,499,850 of federal Low Income Tax Credits and $1 ,142,642 of Rental Housing Funds for Branchville Crossing (please see below)

This is a 72-unit affordable rental housing project on a 2.02-acre site zoned R-10 on Branchville Road submitted by the Cruz Development Corporation.

Cruz submitted a similar project to DHCD last year but was not approved for financing. Funding is very competitive, and for this round, DHCD received 32 applications requesting $36 million of Rental Housing Funds and $40.5 million of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

The City did not support funding for the project last year based on the lack of opportunity to review project details with the applicant, noncompliance with several development standards, potential impact on the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department and community concerns.

Cruz has since met with staff, the NCPCA, the Berwyn District Civic Association and others and made revisions to the project plan. The project has been reduced from 96 to 72 units and reduced in height from 7 to 6 stories. It is proposed to have 36 1-bedroom units, 28 2-bedroom units and 8 townhouse-style 3-bedroom units with a total of 110 parking spaces. Eight of the units will be for persons or families earning 30% or less of area median income (AMI) or $29,400 and 64 units will be for persons or families earning 60% or less of AMI or $68,160. The estimated market-supported rents for the project are $1 ,300 for a I bedroom, $1 ,600 for a 2 bedroom and $1 ,900 for a 3 bedroom.

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Based on the information at hand, staff believes that the project is still too big for the site but that it could be revised at the time of Detailed Site Plan to be more acceptable to the community.

Staff recommends sending a letter to DHCD reflecting the comments listed below and others that may arise from the Saturday meeting.

  • The market feasibility analysis may overstate demand due to the fact that income levels in the city are lower based on the large number of residents that are college students with little or no income.
  • Parking requirements are understated as they are erroneously based on being located within one mile of a Metro Station. Even using this lower standard, a departure of 9 parking spaces is needed.
  • Variances are needed from the front yard setback requirement and from the minimum green area required.
  • Tenant amenities such as a pool, tennis court, fitness room or playground are not provided.
  • Laundry facilities should be provided within each unit.
  • A storm water easement recorded with Prince George’s County will need to be released.
  • While a full traffic impact analysis is not required, it would be helpful to have a traffic study showing anticipated trip generation and the impact of this project on nearby roads.
  • Branchville Road will need to be widened along the property frontage and sidewalks added.
  • An easement should be granted to the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department if needed to meet the turning radius required for the fire trucks.
  • Consideration should be given to shifting the footprint of the building closer to Branchville Road.
  • EFIS is not an acceptable exterior building material and should be replaced by Hardie Board or Hardie Plank.
  • It is not clear whether the project will meet Energy Star Certification requirements.

Please let me know what you think about this development.

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