Commissioners discuss minimum lot width ordinance
CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Oct 23, allowed for public input on Ordinance 18-08 to establish minimum lot width for multi-family development in certain zoning districts.
The change would apply to Town Center, Stevensville Historic Village Center, Grasonville Neighborhood Commercial and Grasonville Village Commercial Zoning Districts in Queen Anne’s County.
The discrepancy was brought to the attention of the county by Tom Davis Jr., of Centreville, an engineer with DMS and Associates LLC, whose client wanted to build a duplex in one of the four exempted zoning districts.
“There are 11 zoning districts in the county that allow for multifamily developments,” said Michael Wisnosky, director of the Queen Anne’s County Planing and Zoning Department. “We have seven of those districts that refer you to Plan Development Section 1-36 of the ordinance. For whatever reason, these four zoning districts do not do that.”
In what Wisnosky called a “housekeeping measure,” making the change would avoid the possible scenario where a developer would build the same structure in two areas of the county with two set of standards with which to comply.
The ordinance serves to revise the development standards from the current lot frontage of 50 feet in width to 60 feet in “accordance with Section 18:1-36 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Queen Anne’s County” the ordinance states.
He also said approving this measure would not open the door to additional multifamily development, but only provide uniformity among all zoning districts.
Yet members of the public in attendance were skeptical that it was truly benign code cleanup saying that without knowing why these four zoning districts were exempt, such changes should be investigated further before approval.
“The notice in the paper doesn’t really explain how lot frontage rules were going to change. My concern is what this does to the Stevensville Historic District. That was set up with specific frontages and densities because it’s a special zone. So I’m not sure why we want to change that,” said Mike Ranelli of Stevensville.
Along with asking county commissioners to vote against the ordinance, Ranelli also said they the need to look at the county’s comprehensive plan if this measure can add to the density in the zone.
Helen Bennett of Chester echoed the sentiments for a “nay” vote on the ordinance on the grounds that such special zoning for these four areas was done for a reason.
“There must have been a reason why those districts were zoned the way they were,” said Bennett. “Changes made in the name of housekeeping seem to open up and expand acceptable uses and higher density. This seems especially onerous considering this is happening in our historic Stevensville. I encourage you to look at it again or wait until the opening of the comprehensive plan.”
Commissioners moved to close pubic comments with the vote on Ordinance 18-08 to be held at a later date.