A public hearing was held today at 10:00 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland on Code Home Rule 6-2008, which is an Act to amend Article V, Section 13.3 (“Marine District-Special Exceptions”), Article VII, Section 6 (“Special Exceptions-Procedures”), Article VII, Section 7 (“Special Exceptions”), and Article XI, Section 2 (“Definitions”) of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance to provide for a special exception in the marine district for private destination/residence clubs subject to certain conditions, and generally relating to Article V, Article VII, and Article XI of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance.
County Commissioners Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator. Others in attendance were Byrne Murphy, applicant, C. Daniel Saunders, Esq., Gail Owings, Director of Planning, Marci Brown, Planning Commission, Wayne Morris, Director of Water and Wastewater Services, 16 interested citizens, and two members of the media.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
Correspondence dated May 2 was received from Elizabeth Morris, Planning Commission, informing that at its April 3, April 22 and May 1 meetings, the Planning Commission reviewed the application filed by Matapeake Partners to amend Article V, Section 13.2 (Marine District Permitted Uses). After lengthy discussion, the Planning Commission found that the language as proposed is so vague that almost any kind of accommodation or rental agreement would apply. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the application as proposed. However, the Planning Commission continued to discuss the concept of vacation accommodations and at its May 1 meeting voted unanimously to propose and recommend approval of the following amendments to the Kent County Land Use Ordinance.
Add # 10 to Article V, Section 13.3 (Marine District – Special Exceptions) of the Land Use Ordinance:
Private Destination/Residence Clubs
Add # 28.5 to Article VII, Section 6 (Special Exceptions Procedures – Projects reviewed by the Planning Commission): Private Destination/Residence Clubs
Add # 38.5 to Article VII, Section 7 (Special Exceptions):
Private Destination/Residence Clubs in M provided:
a. The aggregate Marine zoned property shall consist of 4 acres or more.
b. The facilities for such overnight accommodations shall pay the appropriate county taxes, including taxes payable under Article III of Chapter 152 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Kent County.
c. The facilities for overnight accommodations shall use a reservation system.
e. Permitted accessory uses may include clubhouse, restaurants, cafes or other dining facilities, bars, pubs, or taverns, recreational facilities such as tennis courts and swimming pools and spas; but not including trap, skeet, clay birds, paint ball or other similar firearm activities, other accessory uses that are customarily associated with a lodging facility. The applicant shall describe all proposed accessory uses in the application for site plan. Recreational facilities shall be at least 25 feet from nearest property line
f. Where they exist, listed historic structures shall be incorporated into the overall project.
g. Significant view corridors, both from the site and onto the site shall be preserved as far as possible.
h. The height of all structures shall not exceed 38 feet.
i. The Planning Commission will negotiate a buffer for all new lot coverage of not less than 50 feet or more than 200 feet.
j. Parking lots shall be landscaped as required for commercial developments in Article V, Section 11 of this Ordinance.
k. The approval of a facility for overnight accommodations shall not impose restrictions that will preclude the use of the marina and property for commercial marine uses permitted in the Marine Zoning District, including boat building, storage, and repair, however the continuation of these uses shall not be required. The maintenance and continuation of boat slips will be required.
l. The Board of Appeals may require connection to public sewer systems or provision of a community wastewater treatment system.
m. Campgrounds, mobile home, recreational vehicle, and manufactured home parks shall not be considered private destination or residence clubs.
Add # 242.5 to Article XI, Section 2 (Definitions) of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance:
Private Destination /Residence Club: Tourist accommodations in one or more buildings owned, co-owned, or operated by a corporation, association, person, or persons and serving as the temporary abode of persons having a residence elsewhere and offering both pre and post arrival concierge service. The use and occupancy of the units circulates among individuals on a periodically recurring basis and is inherently transient.
Ms. Owings informed that the Planning Commission felt that the original proposal submitted by the applicant was open ended and came up with a series of recommendations, including a definition of a private destination and residence club, which reads as follows: a tourist accommodation in one or more buildings, owned, co-owned or operated by a corporation, association, person or persons and serving as the temporary abode of persons having a residence elsewhere and offering both pre and post arrival concierge service. The use and occupancy of the unit circulates among individuals on a periodic reoccurring basis and is inherently transient. The Planning Commission felt that it was important that the definition include the requirement for being inherently transient to assure that this is a tourist accommodation and not a residential use. Ms. Owings also reviewed the series of conditions placed on the special exception by the Planning Commission. Ms. Owings stated that there was a lot of conversation relating to the size requirement for the buffer. She stated that if a 200 foot buffer were required it may force new lot coverage back into the sensitive forest areas. Therefore, the Planning Commission and the Board of Appeals felt that it would be best for them to work with the developer to determine the best place for new lot coverage to preserve sensitive areas. The buffer currently in place is 25 feet. The Planning Commission found that the application was consistent with the goal of the Comprehensive Plan to increase tourism in the county.
Mr. Saunders informed that the original submittal of the application was vague in some ways. Several meetings have been held with Ms. Owings to make revisions and additions to the text. There were some issues in which the applicant and the Planning Commission did not agree. Mr. Saunders stated that this application enables marinas to compete and continue to be viable. He stated that in his view there is no need for this legislation to be a special exception. Many of the conditions suggested by the Planning Commission would be more appropriate if the proposal were to insinuate the proposed business into an RCA zone. Mr. Saunders stated that it would be a step backwards to impose additional buffers on this type of use in an IDA and they should remain at 25 feet. He reminded that this project will be subject to final site plan review by the Planning Commission and the Critical Area Commission. This business will bring people to the site to stay for one to two weeks at a time and go home. He stated that the lodging marina will not be any more neighborhood intrusive than a boat repair facility or a boat construction facility. The Commissioners were provided with a copy of an alternative proposal with some incorporation of suggestions from the Planning Commission. The amended provision is for a permitted use and eliminates additional buffer requirements as well as the language concerning sewer. Commissioner Crow questioned whether anything could be added to the 25 foot setback requirement to make it the best option. Mr. Saunders stated that the vast majority of marina zones in Kent County are already fully developed and any good plan will have to address this issue.
Mr. Murphy stated that this site should have a natural buffer zone that will reduce the amount and type of runoff in the area. He stated that the marina next door has a lot of rainscaping which helps with the runoff. The Private Residence Club (PRC) concept attempts to marry tourists with beautiful locations while still maintaining county regulations and objectives. An entity is then developed to own and control the real estate. The entity allows people to buy into the real estate for a certain amount of times per year. Mr. Murphy stated that the members will be vested in making sure that the location is operated properly. He commented that the location of the marina will be an amenity to the lodging. He stated that the membership units will be cottage style with two units in one construction and approximately 16 units total.
Commissioner Pickrum commented that it causes him concern that according to the text amendment, continuation of marine use is not required. He stated that commercial fishing, as well as marina uses could cease to exist. He stated that Kent County is a maritime County which would like to maintain the maritime heritage. He stated that he finds it distasteful for any financial entity to have the ability to take control of the marine district and have the potential to close the marine district for financial reasons.
Mr. Saunders stated that the key to maintaining the marine district county wide to keep boats in Kent County. He stated that this type of establishment will bring more boats to the county and encourage boats and tourists to come in from other areas and stay, which will benefit the county’s maritime industry.
Herschell Claggett questioned whether this proposal is similar to a timeshare. Mr. Murphy stated that the proposed use will be different from a timeshare because members will have an equity interest rather than a license to use. In response to question raised regarding ownership, Mr. Murphy stated that at some point a single entity will own all of the land where the rental units will be placed. Mr. Claggett expressed concern that this legislation is laying the groundwork for condominiums and that the proposal will cover all marinas over four acres. He stated that he has a problem with the proposed concept of ownership. He also stated that he feels that this is not a marine use and is a residential use and is contrary to the statement of intent for the marine zoning. He added that 25 feet of buffering will not be an adequate amount of screening for the property. Are permitted accessory uses in conjunction with the residents or for the marina. Ms. Owings stated that if the application is a special exception it will be apart of the Board of Appeals’ process to determine what happens with the property. Ms. Owings stated that the special exception is very detailed and if someone were to come in and ask for something that was not apart of the original proposal, the Planning Commission may require it to be amended.
Ray Clark expressed concerns relating to the increasing the size of the buffer. He stated that he is in support with the proposed use of the property and a special exception should not be required.
Tom Yeakle informed that his property is adjacent to Greene Point Marina and expressed his belief that a 25 foot buffer would not be adequate. He expressed concerns relating to winter storage of sail boats on the parking areas.
Frank Rhodes commented that there would be a loss of public use if marinas are given away to residences. He stated that the proposed use would be forcing out the public use of slips.
Commissioner Fithian commented that if it were not for out of state visitors, there would be many empty slips in the county.
Mr. Saunders addressed concerns expressed by the audience members. He stated that most of the marinas that exist today have no storm water management permitting requirements. He stated that the process would be subject to the site plan review process. Additional standards and reviews would be picked up by adding an additional hearing by the Board of Appeals. He stated that development does not happen in the buffer. He stated that there will be ample review of any application whether it is a permitted use or a special exception.
In response to question raised from the audience, Commissioner Pickrum reiterated that the draft legislation states that continuation of the proposed uses shall not be required.
Mr. Clark stated that a bed and breakfast is allowed in marine zoning. He also stated that a special exception on the property allows for a country inn with a certain amount if acreage. He commented that this is only an adjustment of acreage.
This hearing was taped and referenced and adjourned at 11:08 a.m.
Comments will be accepted until Friday, May 30 at 4:30 p.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Denisha C. Brown
Roy W. Crow, President