Queen­stown ap­proves pro­posal for Wheat­lands

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

QUEEN­STOWN — Town com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved the growth al­lo­ca­tion for the Wheat­lands prop­erty at their meet­ing Wed­nes­day, Jan. 11, clear­ing one of the many hur­dles needed for the prop­erty owner to de­velop the prop­erty com­mer­cially.

All three com­mis­sion­ers voted in fa­vor of the or­di­nance that al­lows a growth al­lo­ca­tion within the Wheat­lands prop­erty lo­cated on Route 301 across from the out­let shops in Queen­stown.

The or­di­nance per­mits the re­zon­ing of 60 acres of the 140-acre Wheat­lands prop­erty from re­source con­ser­va­tion area to in­tensely de­vel­oped area. Com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment has been pro­posed for the site, some­times called the Water­man prop­erty, which is named af­ter the fam­ily who owns it.

Last month, the com­mis­sion­ers held a pub­lic hear­ing on the or­di­nance, but con­tin­ued the hear­ing to per­mit more com­ments from the pub­lic at their meet­ing on Jan. 11. Only one per­son spoke at the con­tin­ued hear­ing. Perry Stut­man of Queen­stown said he sup­ported the growth al­lo­ca­tion.

“I be­lieve there will be an im­prove­ment to the con­di­tion of the runoff with the de­vel­op­ment of the re­quired stormwa­ter man­age­ment, which will also in­clude the type of ma­te­rial used in park­ing lots,” Stut­man said.

Town Com­mis­sioner Ho­gie Schus­ter said he voted in fa­vor of the or­di­nance “be­cause I think it’s the next nec­es­sary step to the fi­nal de­vel­op­ment of the Wheat­lands prop­erty.”

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Thomas B. Wil­lis Jr. agreed that the vote was part of the process and the next step in the de­vel­op­ment of the prop­erty. It will now be up to the state Crit­i­cal Area Com­mis­sion to de­cide on the is­sue.

In or­der to de­velop the prop­erty, the prop­erty owner will have to sub­mit more def­i­nite plans to the town for ap­proval. Right now, only a con­cept plan has been sub­mit­ted to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Be­sides con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore the town com­mis­sion­ers, the Wheat­lands prop­erty is in court and the is­sue goes back years.

The Mary­land Court of Spe­cial Ap­peals re­cently heard oral ar­gu­ments on whether the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers had the le­gal right to re­verse their de­ci­sion on a five-year wait­ing pe­riod for re­zon­ing the Wheat­lands prop­erty.

As of Mon­day, Jan. 16, the court hasn’t is­sued an opin­ion.

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the Wheat­lands’ owner ar­gued that re­vers­ing the waiver wasn’t le­gal be­cause the Queen­stown gov­ern­ment an­nexed the prop­erty and there­fore has con­trol over it. But the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the op­po­si­tion said the county has the right to re­scind its or­di­nances.

Queen­stown an­nexed the prop­erty in 2014 and re­ceived a waiver from the county com­mis­sion­ers on hav­ing to wait five years to change the land use and zon­ing. But the new county com­mis­sion­ers re­scinded the waiver.

The Water­man part­ner­ship took the mat­ter to the Cir­cuit Court of Queen Anne’s County, which de­clared the de­ci­sion by the new com­mis­sion­ers to be void, up­hold­ing the waiver.

Sev­eral cit­i­zens and the Queen Anne’s Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion ap­pealed the Cir­cuit Court’s de­ci­sion to the Court of Spe­cial Ap­peals. Their lawyer asked the ap­peals court to re­verse the Cir­cuit Court’s de­ci­sion, which would mean the waiver is void.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Perry Stut­man of Queen­stown spoke in fa­vor of the growth al­lo­ca­tion of the Wheat­lands prop­erty. He was the only per­son to speak dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing the town com­mis­sion­ers held on Jan. 11. Seated, from left, Mike Bow­ell, act­ing town man­ager, Amy Moore, town clerk, and Ge­orge Plumbo, town com­mis­sioner.

BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

The Queen­stown Com­mis­sion­ers held a pub­lic hear­ing on Jan. 11 on the growth al­lo­ca­tion of the Wheat­lands prop­erty. From left, town com­mis­sion­ers Ge­orge Plumbo, Tom Wil­lis, and Ho­gie Schus­ter, and town at­tor­ney Brynja McDivitt Booth.

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