Com­mis­sion­ers dis­cuss min­i­mum lot width or­di­nance

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Bay Calendar - By KRIS­TIAN JAIME Kjaime@Ch­es­

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.

Mike Wis­nosky

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