City permitting staff talk about first DH&CC site plan from Plamondon — many problems

City planning staff have raised a bunch of questions about a site Sketch Plan (Plan) for the DHCC submitted November 22 by Bohler Engineering of Towson on behalf of Plamondon. Over thirty problem points were raised by City staff for discussions which began at the City Annex on West Patrick St this week. The issues raised range from large problems difficult to remedy to small matters rather easily fixed.  

The staff comments are compiled in a 5-page letter titled ‘Re: Sketch Plan STF127-992SP for 200 East Patrick Street’ on City letterhead to Bohler Engineering dated December 18.  There’s another list from city engineers. The comments were discussed with Plamondon representatives the next day Tuesday December 19 in the planning staff Annex offices on West Patrick St.




Biggest issue appears to be two proposed vehicle entrances off East Patrick St (and exits) which the City letter says “do not meet separation standards” citing the Land Management Code’s (LMC) Table 601-2. City standards for an arterial road like Patrick St calls for 400ft between South Carroll Street and any driveway to the hotel while the Plan shows driveways at only 100ft from the intersection. A further problem is that the LMC requires 200ft separation between separate driveways and the Plan shows the twin driveways about 40ft apart centerline to centerline.

Entrance spacing standards can be relaxed by the Planning Commission when site conditions make strict adherence impossible but a staff letter calls for “a justification statement.”

Staff say that before they can make a recommendation to relax entrance separation standards for Plamondon they need traffic counts and traffic analysis. They also say “alternatives for consolidating the (two) access points to one location at a maximum distance away from the intersection with South Carroll St are strongly recommended and should be examined.”

We wrote about this problem last summer 2017/07/24:

In six months nothing has changed.

The December 18 sketch plan shows major construction on the Eagles lot presently used for parking for their club building and to the immediate west of the trolley building on East Patrick Street. Plus there is encroachment proposed on a piece of City land. City officials note that there will need to be subdivisions of different properties. In their letter they say consolidation of separate parcels will be needed before approvals. Other property owners (this appears to refer to the Eagles) have to become part of the application and they will have to authorize agents to act on their behalf.

Problem in moving the Patrick St entrance eastward away from the Carroll St intersection is that Plamondon’s entrances are located according to easements the Randalls established over the Eagles land decades ago — when the issue was getting the occasional maintenance vehicle to the back of the lot. Plamondon will have to go beyond purchase of the Randalls property to improve the location of the Patrick St driveways as urged by City staff. As far back as 2013 City/HAC (Hotel Advisory Committee) consultants Jones Lang LaSalle said that addition of the Eagles Parking lot land was important for the viability of the old Frederick News-Post (FNP) land as a site for the hotel. The HAC and Plamondon have repeatedly spoken of negotiating more land because the Randalls property is too small and too landlocked, its access limited to the awkward Carroll Street frontage.

But nothing has happened, and so, for now, they are limited to making use of easements.

In addition, according to the staff letter of Dec 18, a City engineer says there will be a need for “reworking the internal (vehicular) circulation patterns,” because of concerns about the close proximity of the two driveways — traffic flows on the property itself create conflicts one with the other. Conflicts located right at the driveway entrance on Patrick Street!

An associated problem with the plan relates to how vehicles use the site.  A lot of internal roadway is shown but the purpose of some of it is unclear. How are deliveries of food handled? And trash removal.

Where’s the trash picked up, deliveries done?

City staff in the letter: “Provide greater detail about how vehicular and delivery vehicles (Gawd: vehicular vehicles!) are anticipated to use the site and how the internal layout of the building relates to those users and what other alternatives might exist.”

Plamondon’s sketch plan labels the two building entrances off the Carroll Street motor court Hotel Main Entrance and Function Entrance and has no labels for service, delivery, trash etc (service). The basement level plan submitted to the Historic Preservation Commission showed labels ‘service’ and ‘trash’ in an area 25ft wide by 60ft long right to the immediate west of the entry to the parking garage and at the bottom of the driveway ramp sloping down from Patrick St. (see plans nearby.)

At the meeting with City staff December 19 Plamondon representatives said deliveries and trash will be handled at a service entrance not marked on the site plan, roughly near the car parking garage and tucked away under the building… somehow or other. And how will trucks turn around?

The first answer given in November was that trucks would back in, so they could drive out forward. They wouldn’t need to turn.  They’d back down the ramp! Imagine you’re a regular motorist coming out of the parking garage and to your left there’s a tractor trailer backing down toward you on the left. Would truck drivers even agree to perform such a maneuver on a  regular basis? The December 18 sketch plan doesn’t give a clue. It doesn’t even acknowledge trucks or trash or deliveries.

Asked about this at the December 19 meeting by City staff, Plamondon’s experts described a variant on this. Trucks would drive down the ramp forwards, then at the bottom of the ramp they’d swing hard left (eastwards) and then they’d back directly westwards to an east facing loading area at the basement level. After their ten or 15 minutes visit they’d come
out eastward and execute a hard left to go northward up the ramp. Again, nothing on the site plan submitted shows any of this. City officials told Plamondon’s people this will need to be detailed along with turning radii to demonstrate how these maneuvers can be accomplished. And how will the trucks affect the streams of parkers going to and from the 160 car City parking garage right alongside?

We asked a hotel operator how many truck visits are needed by the hotel of this size. It sums to somewhere between 35 and 42 typically, we’re told, each truck/van stay varying between 5 minutes and 6 hours for a total of some 20 vehicle-hours. See details in table nearby.

Easements “too narrow” at 10′ to 12′

The staff letter raises another problem with Plamondon’s proposed use of easements for the main access road to the parking garage and delivery area.

“There is a need to clarify on the drawing the potential drive aisle around the building to the east side entrances. The existing easements appear to be very narrow, approximately 10’ – 12’. What are the plans for the adjacent properties?”

A two-way driveway is normally about 20′ to 24′ wide since vehicle lanes vary between 10′ and 12’ each, and need to be closer to 12’ each to accommodate big trucks. So Plamondon’s people are blowing smoke in suggesting the easements are sufficient to serve the basement parking garage and truck service facility off East Patrick St.

Parking requirements not met

Plamondon needs to properly calculate parking requirements in line with City code, the letter states. Parking spaces available for the general public “cannot be calculated toward meeting the minimum requirement for the development on the Property.”

This raises a major issue.

The City-funded parking in the basement has been touted by project director Griffin as regular public parking, available to anyone like any other City parking garage. If so, under the requirement cited by City staff none of it counts towards meeting the parking required to be reserved for the hotel. None!

There’s a discrepancy too between the 160 car parking spaces mentioned as the capacity of the basement parking in the basement by Mayor McClement and project director Griffin, and the sketch site plan by Bohler which has notation saying it provides only 122 parking spaces.

Other missing items

The letter says that a site lighting plan and a landscape plan are needed. An archeological assessment was submitted for just under half the site, and the letter says, must be performed for the remaining 0.98 acres.

Pedestrian access from the Creek to the parking garage should be considered.

A December 8 Engineering Department letter has a list of eleven deficiencies seen in the plans as submitted. Among those are lack of a storm water management plan, no analysis of water and sewer capacity, areas for trash pickup and deliveries omitted, disabilities access, details on site access and circulation. A traffic study scope still needs to be established and the long touted traffic study conducted.

Fire prevention systems including a plan for supplying sprinklers is needed.

Two-waying of Patrick Street not dead

Plamondon’s desire to two-way East Patrick Street lives on!  It raised its head again at the Dec 19 meeting. Maybe, Plamondon’s people said, the traffic would work better with two way traffic between East and Carroll Streets. Actually it would work worse. It would likely accentuate the problems of the Patrick St entry because there would have to be signals for the hotel driveway and two left turns across opposing traffic in close succession. And to get a central turning lane curb parking on Patrick St would go.

COMMENT: The site plan submitted Nov 22 is a further mark of the profound incompetence of the downtown hotel ‘Team’ which is good at only one thing: gaining political support and lobbying for public funds. They managed to choose a lousy site, the worst of several available. They chose a lodging brand Marriott that almost defines boring mediocrity. They specified a hotel that is weighted down with costs that far outweigh any benefits — a business the City’s lead financial consultant Municap has valued at around $30m on opening but which is likely to cost over $80m. $50 million if waste! They staged a fake competed procurement and got the wrong developer. It is therefore little surprise that their first site plan, coming eight years after the project was launched, fails to address the most basic of issues — how to get supplies in and how to get trash out. The much vaunted City ‘hotel team’ may be consummate practitioners of cronyist politics but by every other measure they are a bumbling disaster. A continuing case study in why City government should not be sponsoring a hotel.

The site plan (prepare to zoom and unzoom, prepare to move back and forth, prepare to puzzle):SketchSitePlan2017

The City staff letters:



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