Active Adult Community Coming to South Urbana

Photo | Submitted The Planning Commission approved with conditions the combined preliminary site plan for The Woodlands at Urbana, 5-1, on June 13.

Photo | Submitted
The Planning Commission approved with conditions the combined preliminary site plan for The Woodlands at Urbana, 5-1, on June 13.

Located approximately one mile south of Urbana’s town center, the planned Woodlands at Urbana, a 55-and-older, age-restricted community, proposes 566 residential units on a four-parcel, approximately 200-acre site. Development will be concentrated, leaving approximately 116 acres of open space and preserving the site’s substantial streambed and wetlands.

The combined preliminary site plan, submitted by Urbana Corporate Center LLC and Tom Natelli, envisions 176 multifamily condos, 158 attached townhouses or villas and 232 single-family detached units. Fewer than 60 acres are proposed for residential use.

The site will have several entrances. The main entrance at Campus Drive and MD 355 will be signalized when warranted by the State Highway Administration, per a Letter of Understanding with the applicant.

Staff recommended conditional approval to the Frederick County Planning Commission on June 13. Principal Planner Denis Superczynski briefed the commission on the project and answered questions.

Superczynski described an amenable development typified by one-level living, a community clubhouse or recreation center, community gardens, micro parks, shared firepits and a dog park. Substantial attention has been given to providing a strong pedestrian network and handicapped-accessible living. Over time, pedestrian circulation will improve, with retail and medical destinations becoming fairly walkable.

Superczynski urged the applicant to add walkways up to the attached townhouses, currently designed with shared driveway access. “In the last 30 years under the neo-traditional banner or new urbanism, there’s a heightened importance given to the pedestrian experience, and it doesn’t just mean getting to the edge of a property,” he said. At the close of the conversation, the Planning Commission asked the developer to incorporate walkways into the design wherever feasible.

In their report, staff suggested that the proposed mixed of residential building types will result in a broader range of housing choices and affordability. The applicant proposes a ‘per dwelling’ payment to the county (currently set at $26,500) in lieu of building the required 71 moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs). Other points of discussion included tree removal (of 78 specimen trees, 28 will be removed), the 72-foot height of condo buildings located at the north end of the property near Urban Green, incorporating four-foot sidewalks for wheelchairs, ensuring emergency vehicle access, and ways to bring public transit to the community.

Tom Natelli shared insights his company gained from its three- to four-year study of active adult communities—and described how these insights will be realized in The Woodlands at Urbana. In addition to one-level living, active adults value social interaction opportunities, walking path systems, security and dog parks, he noted. “They want to socialize, they want things to do, and a lot of people will be working initially,” he added.

Opportunities for social interaction will be facilitated by the clubhouse, with pool, fitness facility and putting green, open-air pavilions, pickle ball courts, herb garden and dog park. Outdoor gas-run fireplaces located throughout the community will be a great place for “neighbors to gather over coffee or wine,” he said.

Proximity to Frederick Memorial Hospital Urgent Care, the Urbana Volunteer Fire & Rescue and the future YMCA site is ideal for the proposed active adult community, he noted.

Entrances to the community are located at Campus Drive and MD 355, as well as Urbana Parkway that winds its way through the community between MD 355 and MD 80. The main entrance at MD 355 off of Campus Drive will be signalized. All other entrances to the community will be stop controlled.

The Planning Commission approved with conditions the combined preliminary site plan for The Woodlands at Urbana, 5-1.

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