The company developing Clarksburg Town Center failed to provide promised tennis courts, jogging trails and pools, and improperly relocated other amenities far from the heart of the village it said it wanted to create, Montgomery County planning officials said yesterday.
A preliminary report from the county's planning staff said the violations by Newland Communities "are of grave concern."
The report, which requires approval by the five-member Planning Board, confirms some findings of a community group concerned that the Town Center is being built in a haphazardly different form than promised in site plans and sales brochures.
The failure to comply with established plans for recreation resulted in the relocation of some promised green space "to the backside of the town's streets as an afterthought," officials said.
Stephen Z. Kaufman, an attorney for Newland, said he had not seen the planning staff's report and wanted to study it before commenting.
The report sets the stage for a two-part hearing, beginning Thursday, on the allegations, the latest in a series of claims that construction has not conformed to official site plans for Clarksburg Town Center. The suburban community, one of several new villages that will eventually have 14,000 homes, is rising near Clarksburg, a small community northeast of Germantown in northern Montgomery County.
Yesterday's report cleared Newland of two other alleged violations. The company is behind schedule in constructing a required number of moderately priced homes, but not so far behind that it is in violation of its agreement with the county, officials concluded. The report also cleared the company and planning staff of falling behind on requesting certain site inspections, saying the developer has not yet built sufficient homes to trigger such inspections.
Officials deferred evaluating other, new allegations raised by the community group, the Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee, including claims of improperly altered documents and alleged violations of height, setback and lot size regulations.
"That is taking us in some new directions," said Rose Krasnow, head of development review at the planning department. "We wanted to take more time," she said.
The latest allegations come as the county continues to face questions about its ability to manage and oversee its rapid growth. On July 7, the Planning Board, which had said for months that there were no problems with the Clarksburg development, ruled that 433 townhouses and one condominium apartment building are higher than allowed. It also found that 102 homes are closer to the road than permitted.
A few weeks earlier, the planner assigned to the project, Wynn Witthans, resigned after she acknowledged altering height specifications on the site plan to reconcile them to what had been built, officials said.
Her boss, Park and Planning chief Charles Loehr, announced that he would retire by the end of this month. The state prosecutor is investigating the problems, as is the county.
Amy Presley, a leader of the community group, said she was concerned that the delay could cause the second part of the hearing, scheduled for Oct. 25, to run several hours longer than planned.
The Planning Board said this past Thursday that it expected to consider developer and builder penalties Nov. 3.