Noise, con­di­tional use changes not ad­vised

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcomb@kibay­

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion met over the course of three ses­sions to dis­cuss pro­posed text amend­ments to sev­eral county or­di­nances. The pro­pos­als were in­tro­duced by County Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son. The text amend­ments ad­dress­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions to noise or­di­nances and con­di­tional use were unan­i­mously dis­liked.

County Or­di­nance 16-10 and 16-11 were re­viewed to­gether. It was de­ter­mined that prop­er­ties cur­rently hold­ing con­di­tional use per­mits in the Re­source Con­ser­va­tion Area (RCA) which the or­di­nance and the pro­posed text amend­ments ap­ply di­rectly to, would be sub­ject to the amended stan­dard, and which would in­clude lim­it­ing events that had pre­vi­ously been per­mit­ted on a slid­ing scale as based on acreage, i.e. prop­er­ties with 100 plus acres are en­ti­tled to no more than 35 events per year, would then be sub­ject to the pro­posed stip­u­la­tion of no more than 5 events per year.

This pro­posed text amend­ment change re­ceived ex­ten­sive neg­a­tive feed­back at both the Septem­ber and No­vem­ber meet­ings of the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Also pro­posed as a text amend­ment was the ad­di­tion to out­door am­pli­fied mu­sic, which pro­posed, “events with am­pli­fied mu­sic must be con­tained within a struc­ture with four sides, in­clud­ing tents ... tents, must have sides con­structed of vinyl side pan­els or sim­i­lar ma­te­rial and may not be screened.”

Jenny Rhodes, from the Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion of­fice, and Vic­to­ria Hoffman, a Queen­stown res­i­dent, both spoke against the amend­ments.

“Ag tourism is in its in­fancy in Queen Anne’s County,” said Rhodes, “this text amend­ment would hurt our busi­nesses in the county ... please give this an un­fa­vor­able rec­om­men­da­tion.”

“The ap­pear­ance [of this amend­ment] has of be­ing of the ben­e­fit for a few, but in re­al­ity has far reach­ing ef­fects on the com­mu­nity as a whole ... the ef­fects could be dev­as­tat­ing, and very lim­it­ing ... putting or­ga­ni­za­tions such as CBEC (Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter) out of busi­ness,” Hoffman said.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and neigh­bors from one of the county’s most pop­u­lar wed­ding venues, Maria’s Love Point Bed and Break­fast in Stevensville, spoke out against the amend­ments as well.

“This or­di­nance would put us out of busi­ness,” said Ed Peffly, one of the owner’s of Maria’s.

Glenn Frost, a neigh­bor ad­ja­cent to Maria’s, said he also op­posed the amend­ment and had no is­sues with events on the prop­erty near him.

Paige Evans, one of the prop­erty own­ers who cur­rently holds a con­di­tional use per­mit, said the ef­fect would be dev­as­tat­ing for her fam­ily busi­ness. Evans said she felt the pro­posed text amend­ments to the or­di­nance came as a di­rect re­sult of a few who were un­happy with her plans to hold wed­dings on her 100-plus acre prop­erty along the river. Evans said she had not been ap­proached by the county com­mis­sion­ers to pro­vide her in­put into the sit­u­a­tion and that the changes seemed to be very one-sided.

Jack Brod­er­ick, pres­i­dent of the Kent Is­land Her­itage So­ci­ety, said the pro­posed or­di­nance had mas­sive un­in­tended con­se­quences that go far be­yond a noise con­cern.

“I don’t be­lieve it was the ini­tial in­tent, but it is hav­ing that con­se­quence ... if the is­sue is noise, lets find an­other way to deal with it,” said Brod­er­ick.

Jody Schulz of Ch­ester also spoke to the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect the pro­posal would have on CBEC.

“We’re in the busi­ness of tourism in this county,” said Schulz, “let’s be in it and do it well.”

No one spoke in fa­vor of the pro­posed text amend­ments to 16-10 and 16-11.

We know that farm­ers are look­ing to in­crease their rev­enue and find new ways to keep their farms vi­able, said Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner John Perkins. With this or­di­nance, “we look like we are turn­ing away busi­nesses.”

The plan­ning com­mis­sion voted unan­i­mously to pro­vide an un­fa­vor­able rec­om­men­da­tion to the county com­mis­sion­ers.

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