Queenstown approves proposal for Wheatlands
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.
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.
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.