Busi­ness seeks Eas­ton an­nex­a­tion to in­vest

Sunday Star - - LOCAL - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @jbol­l_s­tar­dem.

EAS­TON — With an­tic­i­pa­tion to move for­ward on a busi­ness in­vest­ment, JD Oliver LLC rep­re­sen­ta­tives said to the Eas­ton Town Coun­cil Mon­day night, Sept. 18, that they hope to have an an­nex­a­tion agree­ment be­fore the body by its next meet­ing in Oc­to­ber.

JD Oliver has pro­posed Eas­ton an­nex its prop­erty, nearly 4 acres of land at 9433 Ocean Gate­way, which con­sists of two parcels that sit just east of U.S. Route 50, ad­ja­cent to the cur­rent town boundary that runs along the high­way.

JD Oliver bought the prop­erty sev­eral years ago from El­liott Wil­son truck sales, and con­tin­ues to op­er­ate as large truck and equip­ment sales and ser­vices busi­ness. The prop­erty im­me­di­ately to the east of Route 50 pri­mar­ily op­er­ates as the sales fa­cil­ity, and far­ther east of that is a prop­erty that car­ries out re­pairs for the busi­ness.

The plan­ning com­mis­sion pre­vi­ously ap­proved of the an­nex­a­tion, say­ing it is con­sis­tent with the town’s com­pre­hen­sive plan, which pri­or­i­tizes that par­tic­u­lar prop­erty for an­nex­a­tion in the cur­rent com­pre­hen­sive plan cy­cle, Town Plan­ner Lynn Thomas said.

The ap­pli­cant is pur­su­ing a zon­ing waiver from the Tal­bot County Coun­cil. When­ever a prop­erty is an­nexed into a town from the county, the county coun­cil has to op­tion to put a hold on any zon­ing changes for five years af­ter the an­nex­a­tion’s ap­proval.

The town and prop­erty owner is seek­ing to zone the prop­erty as “gen­eral com­mer­cial,” which in­cludes busi­ness uses sim­i­lar to what cur­rently op­er­ates out of that lot.

The process to an­nex the JD Oliver prop­erty was tabled at the county coun­cil meet­ing Tues­day, Sept. 12, af­ter a long dis­cus­sion among coun­cil mem­bers that saw dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on the fu­ture of that prop­erty. The coun­cil de­bated the mer­its and fea­si­bil­ity of grant­ing the an­nex­a­tion and re­lin­quish­ing con­trol of how the prop­erty would be used in the fu­ture.

Al­though the cur­rent busi­ness model for the prop­erty won’t change, the new town zon­ing would al­low for a “sub­stan­tially higher den­sity” and “sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent” land uses, ac­cord­ing to the county. The town’s boundary runs along the east side of Route 50, im­me­di­ately ad­ja­cent to the JD Oliver prop­erty, which is just north of Eas­ton’s boundary.

“While it will be some­what unique in that this will be the first prop­erty be­tween, say, the restau­rants — ac­tu­ally there’s a cou­ple parcels just north of the restau­rants — but then noth­ing is in town un­til you get to the (Her­trich) Ford deal­er­ship,” Thomas said. “In that long stretch of a lot of al­ready im­proved parcels, this will be the first among those.”

Some county coun­cil mem­bers ques­tioned an­nex­ing the JD Oliver prop­erty be­fore other neigh­bor­ing prop­er­ties are ready to be an­nexed, too, such as has been done in past an­nex­a­tions with Tal­bot Com­merce Park and Eas­ton Point.

But gar­ner­ing con­sent among neigh­bor­ing busi­ness own­ers is some­thing that will take time, and JD Oliver is ready to move on in­vest­ment now, JD Oliver rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Stein said.

Ryan Showal­ter, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing JD Oliver, said the an­nex­a­tion re­quest is driven by a busi­ness need to have ac­cess to the town’s water and sewer, which will bet­ter set up the com­pany to in­vest in its par­cel and ex­pand the busi­ness. He said JD Oliver wants to ex­pand its re­pair fa­cil­ity, on the east­ern­most part of the lot, re­plac­ing the cur­rent fa­cil­ity with a larger one with mul­ti­ple bays, which will al­low for ad­di­tional jobs for skilled me­chan­ics.

“We need to go this di­rec­tion so that we can get water and sewer, and we can’t wait,” Stein said. “I un­der­stand the is­sue is you want to an­nex more than just one par­cel, but in or­der for us to get all that buy-in from ev­ery­body, it would take way too long to be able to do that.”

At the county meet­ing on Sept. 12, Thomas and Town At­tor­ney Sharon Van Em­burgh spoke in fa­vor of the an­nex­a­tion and said it would pro­vide an in­cen­tive for other county busi­ness prop­erty own­ers be­tween the Oliver parcels and the town to seek to do the same.

The county coun­cil is slated to re­view the an­nex­a­tion pro­posal at its next meet­ing on Sept. 26.

PHOTO BY CON­NIE CONNOLLY

On Tues­day, Sept. 26, the Tal­bot County Coun­cil is ex­pected to dis­cuss a res­o­lu­tion that would al­low the an­nex­a­tion of the truck­ing sales and ser­vice busi­ness prop­erty owned by J.D. Oliver LLC, on nearly 4 acres on Ocean Gate­way from the county’s gen­eral com­mer­cial to the Town of Eas­ton’s gen­eral com­mer­cial zone.

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