Hear­ing set on old Sudlersville Mid­dle re­zon­ing

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

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.

FILE PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

The Sudlersville Com­mis­sion­ers will hold a pub­lic hear­ing Feb. 1 on re­zon­ing the old Sudlersville Mid­dle School.

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