Hearing set on old Sudlersville Middle rezoning
SUDLERSVILLE — In an attempt to keep the old Sudlersville Middle School from falling into disrepair, the Sudlersville Town Commissioners have proposed amending its zoning district map and reclassifying the building to allow business there. A public hearing has been scheduled to receive input about the rezoning during the commission’s Wednesday, Feb. 1, meeting.
Currently, the old middle school is zoned as Town Residential. If approved, the vacant educational facility would be zoned as Town Center Commercial, allowing potential businesses to occupy portions of it and the 10.738 surrounding property.
In April 2016, the commissioners gave the middle school to the fire company in an agreement of zero dollars. In that, the company became responsible for the “existing easements, rights of way and agreements for roadways, electric transmission lines and telephone lines and the ser vice and maintenance” furthermore of the empty building, according to the deed document. In February 2016, the commissioners officially transferred the school to the company.
Sudlersville Commissioner Bill Faust, also a member of the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company Board of Trustees, said during its Jan. 4 meeting that the fire company has no plans for the property but has held discussions with multiple companies interested in its use.
“We want to have the option to do whatever we can in there,” Faust said. “The plan is to put ... retail in the building, but right now I’m not going to tell you that that’s 100 percent.”
Faust said the aim in changing its zoning would be to attract businesses with the hope it would come to the fire company with a plan for usage “and go at it that way.”
Proposed uses for the property include turning it into a community center, retail, professional offices and non-profit offices, residential rentals, creating a trade school or any other type of multi-purpose function, the application for reclassification from the fire company stated.
During the Sudlersville Planning Commission’s Dec. 15 meeting, members discussed the request of the 201 N. Church St. property and gave a favorable recommendation to the commissioners for the change.
Faust said two potential uses the fire company has looked into have been creating a tractor pull behind the building as well as creating a laundry mat at one end of the school “because it can handle it and the town needs it.”
Since the county leased the property to the fire company, Faust said sports teams have used the gymnasium, and various fire companies and law enforcement agencies have conducted training in various portions.
“It’s just like the town,” Faust said. “We’ve got all this property in town, and we can’t get anyone to do anything.”
With the potential zoning change, the fire company and town hope to bring in business and keep the building from going unused, officials said.
The building, which is tr ying to be saved for potential business opportunities as well as historical significance, was originally opened in 1920 as the Sudlersville High School, later becoming a middle school in 1966. In 1994, the property was transferred to the board of education from the county, which the board later deemed a surplus and transferred back to the county.
In November 2015, members of the fire company spoke to the commissioners about having the property fully transferred to it. At the time, Faust said the commissioners were paying for basically everything to keep the building up and running, and asked for a final one-time payment of $45,000 to be made, which was the county was paying annually for heating and maintenance, thereafter leaving the county free of payments and the responsibility on the fire company.
The Sudlersville Commissioners will hold a public hearing Feb. 1 on rezoning the old Sudlersville Middle School.