John Baumhoefener III has had a plan to build a three-story, 60-unit condominium project called Tudor Rose for a couple years now on six acres of Baumhoefener Nursery land at Johnson Avenue and Wiley Boulevard NW.
His plan isn’t liked by neighbors next door in single-family homes and hasn’t done well jumping through the City Hall regulatory process. In fact, it was put on hold for a year, waiting the required period before getting a second chance to begin the process anew.
On Tuesday, the City Planning Commission liked the project this time around and gave it an important backing on a 5-2 vote.
There are still some go-rounds, both in front of the commission and the City Council.
But Tuesday’s vote was important.
The commission majority agreed with Baumhoefener III’s request to change the city’s future land-use map from low-density residential to medium-density residential for the nursery site. The change will allow the condominium project, which would not have been permitted in the existing designation.
The City Council must agree, and then future debates and votes will deal with zoning and the site plan for the site.
Commission member Nancy Evans on Tuesday said the issue of land-use on the Baumhoefener property wasn’t even a close call.
The site, Evans noted, sits at the intersection of two busy arterial streets on which it was hard to imagine any developer would ever build single-family homes. The site didn’t belong in a land-use category, low-density residential, in which no one could build housing, she said.
Commissioners Allan Thoms and Scott Fiauf made the same point.
The commission unanimously turned down a similar request for the project in 2006, and one opposing neighbor, Todd Kunstorf, 4204 Roxbury Dr. NW, asked the commission on Tuesday why it would change its mind now.
Commission member Thoms noted that the developer had changed a couple aspects of the proposal, adding a wider buffering strip between the project and neighbors and limiting access to the site off Wiley Boulevard NW near a school.
Commissioner member Evans also pointed to the city’s new use of a “smart-growth scorecard,” which is designed to assess the value of a project to the community.
One of the developer’s engineers, Allen Witt, of Hall & Hall Engineers, argued that the Tudor Rose project was a perfect example of “infill development” — it’s on a bus route, near a fire station, a walking trail and retail stores, and is not fueling urban sprawl — which helps a project score well on the scorecard.
Neighbors have opposed the Tudor Rose project since they first learned of it in June 2006, and at one point, presented a petition in opposition with more than 200 signatures. Neighbors spoke out against the project again Tuesday, in part, saying that they bought their homes trusting in the city’s future land-use map, which showed the future use of the Baumhoefener property as low-density residential.
One neighbor, Steve DeFord, 4313 Roxbury Dr. NW, called the move to change the land-use map “spot zoning,” and he cautioned residents elsewhere to watch out if they, too, have placed their “trust” in the land-use map.
Commissioner Evans said there are times and places where the city’s land-use map should change, and the intersection of two busy streets is one of those, she said.
If the Tudor Rose project is built, the Tudor-style home on the six acres is to be renovated and used by those buying the condominiums as a meeting place.