Noise, conditional use changes not advised
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.