Prop­erty owner re­quests an­nex­a­tion into Milling­ton

Sunday Star - - BUSINESS - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­

MILLING­TON — Free­man Evans ap­peared be­fore the plan­ning com­mis­sion here Thurs­day, Aug. 24, tak­ing the first step in hav­ing his 125-acre par­cel north of Milling­ton an­nexed into town.

Ac­com­pa­nied by real es­tate agent John Car­roll, who also is the mayor of Galena, Evans spoke in very gen­eral terms. He said he wanted to de­velop the prop­erty in phases, beginning with the 36 acres that are clos­est to town and zoned Vil­lage.

There would be 70 to 90 homes, de­pend­ing on the lot size and po­si­tion of open spa­ces.

Town Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jo Man­ning told the plan­ners that Evans un­der­stood that he would have to ab­sorb some of the costs for wa­ter and sewer hookup into the town’s sys­tem.

Evans, who said he would re­turn in September with a rough de­sign and a ba­sic con­cept plan, asked the Milling­ton Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for di­rec­tion.

“It needs to be some­thing that I can be proud of,” he said.

Chair­man Joyce Morales said the plan­ning com­mis­sion’s chief con­cerns were related to green space, the width of streets and lot size. She said the plan­ning com­mis­sion would look fa­vor­ably upon bike paths and walk­ing trails and un­fa­vor­ably upon a cul-de­sac. Streets should be wide enough to ac­com­mo­date first re­spon­ders, Morales said.

Evans, a Kennedyville-area farmer, told the plan­ners that this is his sec­ond de­vel­op­ment. The first, in Ch­ester County, Pa., in 1988-89, was on the “cut­ting edge” in its use of walk­ing trails and open space, he said.

Plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­ber Mau­rice “Moe” Mor­ton said the Evans de­vel­op­ment could be “prece­dent set­ting.”

Man­ning agreed, say­ing that guide­lines re­quire an an­nex­a­tion plan stat­ing what the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment would in­clude.

Evans said the doc­u­ment would an­swer the ques­tion, “What is it you want for the fu­ture of the town?” ul­ti­mately pro­duc­ing an agree­ment be­tween Evans and the plan­ning com­mis­sion.

The re­main­ing 89 acres of the par­cel are zoned Ru­ral Char­ac­ter. Car­roll said there is no im­me­di­ate plan for de­vel­op­ment. “We’ll let the mar­ket dic­tate what it should be long term,” he said.

This is the first re­quest for an­nex­a­tion by an in­di­vid­ual since the 249-acre Wick prop­erty came into town in 2008.

A cou­ple of years ago the Town of Milling­ton pur­chased the John Rob­bins prop­erty on the Queen Anne’s County side of the Ch­ester River, us­ing a grant from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to ac­quire “flood plain prop­erty” for an ex­panded wa­ter­front park. This was a town-gen­er­ated an­nex­a­tion and not a prop­erty owner re­quest­ing an­nex­a­tion, Man­ning said. She said the an­nex­a­tion and prop­erty ac­qui­si­tion were part of Milling­ton’s hazard mit­i­ga­tion plan to com­bat flood­ing.

Evans pur­chased the for­mer Cole­man farm in 1995. The farm is lo­cated be­hind Kent Mill. It goes west to Car­roll Clark Road, north to prop­erty owned by Lester Jones & Sons and to the east it abuts a piece of the for­mer Wick prop­erty that is now owned by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Man­ning said when asked to de­scribe the land.

Evans put his re­quest for an­nex­a­tion in a let­ter dated Aug. 2 to the Milling­ton Mayor and Council, which has the fi­nal say.

Morales told Evans that ap­pear­ing be­fore the plan­ning com­mis­sion is akin to sit­ting at a “ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble” as an an­nex­a­tion plan is put to­gether. The plan, reached in ac­cor­dance with the com­mis­sion, should address such is­sues as prop­erty bound­aries, zon­ing, util­ity and other in­fra­struc­ture con­cerns, the time line for build-out, open space and af­foresta­tion. This also is the time to deal with im­pact fees as they re­late to roads, am­bu­lance and fire ser­vice, stormwa­ter main­te­nance, etc.

Once an an­nex­a­tion plan has been drafted and agreed upon, a rec­om­men­da­tion to ac­cept and a res­o­lu­tion to adopt would be pre­sented to the mayor and council for in­tro­duc­tion.

Af­ter that, a pub­lic hearing would be held.

Var­i­ous agen­cies — in­clud­ing the Kent County De­part­ment of Plan­ning, Hous­ing and Zon­ing, the Mary­land De­part­ment of Plan­ning, Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice and Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­source — would be asked for com­ments and ap­proval.

The fi­nal step is for the mayor and council to adopt the res­o­lu­tion of an­nex­a­tion or deny it.

Also at its Aug. 24 meet­ing, the plan­ning com­mis­sion di­rected Man­ning to send a let­ter to the Kent County Health De­part­ment re­quest­ing that it deny an air qual­ity per­mit for a con­trolled burn of the for­mer Milling­ton Pizza prop­erty. Plan­ners cited their con­cerns about as­bestos and bats roost­ing in the build­ing at 189 Sas­safras St. that is to be de­mol­ished to make way for a Dol­lar Gen­eral store.

By unan­i­mous vote, the plan­ners ap­proved Dol­lar Gen­eral’s mas­ter sign ap­pli­ca­tion.

Dol­lar Gen­eral also re­ceived the OK to put up a tem­po­rary free­stand­ing sign an­nounc­ing that it would be “com­ing soon.” The sign must be taken down within 10 days af­ter the store’s open­ing.

Sea­sonal items and sale items may be dis­played out­side near the en­trance, but must be taken in at night.

The plan­ning com­mis­sion is ex­pected to be­gin re­view­ing its sign or­di­nance next month. Morales asked her col­leagues to study the ex­ist­ing def­i­ni­tions and ex­emp­tions be­tween now and the September meet­ing.

She said she would pre­pare a spread­sheet com­par­ing Milling­ton’s or­di­nance with those of Bet­ter­ton, Rock Hall, Ch­ester­town, Galena and Kent County. The plan is to dis­cuss one sec­tion of the or­di­nance at a time to “see what makes sense and works for us,” she said.

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