A public hearing was held today at 9:30 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland on Code Home Rule 4-2007, which is a zoning text amendment based upon application submitted by John M. Stoltzfus to repeal and re-enact Article III, Section 1 (Establishment of Districts – within the intense development area of the critical area), and Article V, Section 12.2 (Commercial Critical Area – Permitted Principal Uses and Structures); and by amending Article V, Section 12.7.B.8 (Commercial Critical Area Specific Environmental Standards – Impervious Surfaces), adding provisions for shopping centers and other intense commercial uses that have received growth allocation and exempting said uses from certain impervious surface environmental standards.
County Commissioners Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, others in attendance were John Stolzfus, Applicant, David Stoltzfus, Applicant, Cynthia McCann, Esq. of Stevens, Phillips, and McCann representing the applicant, Gail Owings, Director of Planning, Jack Steinmetz, Economic Development Director, 10 interested citizens, and one member of the media.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
Commissioner Fithian informed that before he was elected as County Commissioner, he entered into a sales contract with Mr. Stoltzfus for a parcel of property. That agreement has since been finalized. Commissioner Fithian stated that nothing said during this public hearing can affect the previous agreement that he made with Mr. Stoltzfus and therefore, he does not feel it necessary to recuse himself from the public hearing.
Mr. Stoltzfus testified that in 1988 he purchased property located at the intersections of US 301 and MD 291, outside of Millington and developed it into a truck stop, gas station and deli. After this business was closed, he began looking at different proposals for the site. His current proposal is for a retail center similar to Dogwood Village in Galena. He stated that when the proposal for the retail center was taken to the Planning Commission, he was informed that over the last few years restrictions have been placed on usages for the site, which were unknown to him. These restrictions have necessitated a request for a zoning text amendment and will eventually necessitate a request for growth allocation, if the zoning text amendment is approved. He stated that he has received favorable comments from members of the community who are in favor of the proposed retail center as a whole.
Ms. McCann stated that although plans were submitted for more than a retail center, more could be established on the property if a growth allocation is granted. She stated that at this point it is unclear exactly what the plans for the property would be. The parcel is located in the Critical Area and is designated Limited Development Area (LDA). The lot was grandfathered in, therefore, there was more than the 15% impervious surface limitation on the parcel. Use of the lot changed over the years. The grandfathered status on the parcel was lost after one year’s time and the property is now required to have 15% impervious surface limitation in order to develop the parcel.
Commissioner Fithian questioned exactly what the Planning Commission denied that has necessitated the need for a zoning text amendment. Ms. McCann stated that Mr. Stoltzfus needs more than the 15% impervious surface limitation and was denied. Commissioner Fithian questioned whether Mr. Stoltzfus was requesting to go beyond the impervious surface amount previously used for the truck stop. Ms. McCann stated that Mr. Stoltzfus was not asking to go beyond the previous impervious surface limitation and planned to use less impervious surface than what was used for the truck stop. She noted that he also plans to environmentally improve the site. In order to move forward, a variance is needed to allow the site to go beyond the 15 % impervious surface limitation because the grandfather clause no longer applies. They were denied a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals, therefore, they are now requesting that the lot be reclassified as an Intense Development Area (IDA), which does not have any impervious surface requirements. Commissioner Pickrum questioned whether the proposed new establishments would occupy the same space that was used for the truck stop and what would occupy the space. Mr. Stoltzfus stated that he is not positive as to what will be placed on the property at this point. He stated that his plans may change from what was last proposed to the Planning Commission. Commissioner Fithian questioned whether Mr. Stoltzfus is asking to exceed the limitations used when the property was a truck stop. Ms. McCann stated that nothing is being proposed at this time. She stated that proposed plans will depend on whether they can come before the Commissioners for growth allocation. Ms. McCann stated that the zoning text amendment needs to be approved before they can request growth allocation.
Commissioner Fithian requested more clarification as to the exact reason that Mr. Stoltzfus is in need of a zoning text amendment. Ms. Owings stated that the proposal for a shopping center is not currently a permitted use of the property, therefore, this use would need to be added in order for his proposed use of the property. Ms. Owings stated that despite the allowance of a retail center in the Land Use Ordinance, if there are more than three stores in the retail center, it then is defined as a shopping center. Ms. Owings stated that there is a lot of history on this property. She stated that when the critical area designation came in, the property was wooded with a butcher shop located on it. So that there is no question, a variance needs to be granted for the amount of impervious surface or permission to change the zoning to IDA. This will help clean up changes that have happened as a result of the evolution of the property.
Exhibits were presented by Ms. Owings as follows:
1)A copy of the letter submitted to the Commissioners from David Teel, Circuit Rider, Town Manager, advising the Town of Millington wishes to go on record as opposing the text amendment.
2)Copy of correspondence from the Critical Area Commission directed to Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, advising the Commission staff cannot provide comments on the proposed growth allocation for this project because it is unclear how the proposed that amendments if approved, would affect the applications.
Commissioner Pickrum commented that the intent should be to place something similar or better on the property, but not something larger than what was initially there. Ms. Owings stated that when the proposal was presented to the Planning Commission, it was brought up that the Town of Millington does not support this proposal. It was noted that property item is outside of the town limits.
Ms. McCann informed that the proposed zoning text amendment being requested would only open the door for Mr. Stoltzfus to come forward for growth allocation and he would still like to keep the portion of the text amendment that would allow this. An amendment to Section 12.7.B-8 of the Kent County Zoning Ordinance is being requested to add the following subsection:
f. Properties granted growth allocation in accordance with Kent County Growth Allocation Policy are exempt from the 15% impervious surface limitation.
If this zoning text amendment is approved it would allow any property owner of a commercial critical area zoned parcel of land to submit an application for growth allocation. The only classification that could result from the growth allocation would be an IDA. If approved, Mr. Stoltzfus would have to come to the Commissioners and demonstrate that the property meets the critical area law so that growth allocation can be granted. Commissioner Crow reminded that the Commissioners can still place conditions on the growth allocation.
The County Administrator noted that the applicant requested an addition of the following text to Section 12.2 Permitted Principal Uses and Structures:
13. Retail and other intense commercial uses, including shopping centers, that have
received growth allocation in accordance with the Kent County Growth Allocation
Policy. Upon award of growth allocation, Development will not be required to meet the
impervious surface limitation set forth in Section 12.7.B.8 hereinbelow.
She questioned whether the text should be changed to read “Development may not be required”, rather than Development will not be required.
Ms. Owings stated that this amendment would affect 3-4 other property owners. She noted that none of these properties are of the size of Mr. Stoltzfus’ property. She also noted that at this time there are no major properties around the county that would be affected by the proposed amendment.
Commissioner Fithian informed that during his last previous term in office the county spent $250,000 installing sewer lines under US 301 specifically for the subject property which was then known as the Dutch Deli commercial area. The area was being commercialized and there was no reason to believe that it would not continue to be a commercial area. He stated that the County has made an investment in this property. Ms. McCann noted that the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) was requested to study the 301 Corridor to determine sites available for commercial development.
Comments were entertained from the audience.
Jerry Bramble commented that he does not understand the opposition to the proposed shopping center, especially if the shopping center would include a diesel or gasoline facility. Mr. Bramble informed that he is a school bus contractor and there are currently no facilities from Queenstown to Middletown to purchase diesel fuel for buses.
Mr. Steinmetz reminded that years ago the county looked at this area along the US 301 corridor and decided that it would be ideal for growth. He stated that the proposed use of the property would be ideal for this location. Mr. Steinmetz is in strong support of the project.
Lee Clough expressed his support of the proposal and stated that people in the surrounding area would like to see the property used.
Carville Robinson expressed his support of the project and stated that the area is in need of improvement.
Edward Robinson, Millington Council Member, stated that he disagrees with the Mayor’s position in this matter. He stated that he is in full support of the proposal and that the majority of the town is in support of the proposal.
Commissioner Pickrum commented that the letter sent to the Planning Commission from David Teel, Millington Town Manager, begins by opposing the proposal, but later states that the town will support the project if the site is developed into a town gateway center.
The County Administrator stated that adding may instead will to the requested addition to Section 12.2 will provide the Commissioners with more latitude in the ordinance. Ms. McCann stated that Section 13 could be changed to match language in Section 8.f which states may not be. Ms. Owings stated that this language would be consistent with language used for other growth allocations.
Ms. McCann handed out the goals and strategies for the Comprehensive Plan for the Commissioners’ information and review. She commented that the proposal will support and comply with all of the goals stated in the plan from a growth allocation standpoint.
Commissioner Crow informed that written comments will be received until November 30. The tentative third reading of the legislation will be on December 4.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:23 a.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President