Brookdale Citizens' Association comments on GEICO's request for extension of their approval period for development

The Planning Board requested public comments on a GEICO request, scheduled for a hearing January 4, 2001.

The statement on the Preliminary Plan Review No.1-99039 - Friendship Commons (GEICO) prepared by Brookdale President Gwen Lewis follows. In the hearing, after very brief discussion in which it was clear that at least one commissioner was sympathetic to the Brookdale position, the Board's Counsel announced that the Board was unable to deal with the issue. Her reasoning was that the binding elements (referred to in the following statement) applied to action by the County Council, not the Board; the Planning Board had no authority to address an extension regarding them.

. . . I wish to comment on behalf of the Brookdale Citizens' Association on the request for Preliminary Plan Extension of Friendship Commons by GEICO.

Our concern is the effect of any extension on the "additional binding elements" which are part of the Development Plan/TS-M Local Map Amendment. For many years, GEICO has owned houses within Brookdale, and their ownership has created controversy and bad feelings. Without repeating the history of the issue, I would summarize our neighborhood's concern in a few points: GEICO purchased more than 20 houses in Brookdale, many secretly and none under GEICO's name. The houses have been rented, and in many cases neighbors believe that the properties have been maintained below general standards of owner-occupied houses. Brookdale residents generally feel that the GEICO ownership has also been potentially destablizing. For these and other reasons, Brookdale was pleased when the TS-M Local Map Amendment set a schedule for GEICO's sale of the houses.

Unfortunately, the time table for GEICO's action was attached to the development of their site. This attachment now appears to mean that a delay in development could mean a delay in sale of those houses.

While we have no objection to a delay in development in itself, we would like to find a way to keep the house sales on track. Therefore, we would not object to an extension of the relevant approvals if the schedule of sales were fixed to a date certain rather than to the time of platting or other steps in development. We would be willing to negotiate the selection of the date certain. It would seem reasonable to "start the clock" on required sales -- as in the "additional binding elements 3.c.1 and 2" -- on the last day of the original approval period, namely, June 13, 2002. In a spirit of cooperation, we would allow a 5-year period for the houses adjacent to the GEICO site, rather than the 3-year period currently specified. That is, the 11 original houses (of which 6 remain under GEICO ownership) that do not adjoin the site should be sold prior to June 13, 2005, and the 6 houses that adjoin the site should be sold prior to June 13, 2007.

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