Board approves boatel expansion
In a public hearing before the Queen Anne’s County Board of Appeals, Kent Narrows Marine LLC was granted approval to increase the size of the boatel building.
CENTREVILLE — In a public hearing before the Queen Anne’s County Board of Appeals, Kent Narrows Marine LLC was granted approval to increase the size of the boatel building at 100 Piney Narrows Road in Chester.
The existing 72,000square-foot structure was given approval to expand to 84,000 square feet. The enhanced design allows for additional boat storage, possible shops and a proposed restaurant pad site.
Kent Narrows Marine LLC, formed by Jody Schulz and Rob Marsh, constructed the mixed-use boatel facility for high-dr y storage facility/ rackominium for boats last year. The amendment they were seeking was to allow an increase in the size of the boatel building and the addition of certain uses to the facility.
The Dec. 19 meeting was open to the public for comment, and only supporting comments in favor of the boatel were made — including current tenants who use the boatel for dry dock storage of their watercraft. Tom Lepisto, Carey Piekarski, Jeffrey P. (Beau) Scott and Georgeanna Windley, executive director of the Kent Narrows Development Foundation, went on the record supporting Kent Narrows Marine’s request for approval.
The board found the proposed use “will not result in a substantial or undue adverse effect on adjacent properties, the character of the neighborhood, traffic
conditions, parking, public improvements, public sites, rights of way, or other matters affecting the public health, safety and general welfare” and is consistent with use provided for in the Comprehensive Plan.
Seeming satisfied the specifications set forth by the planning department had been met by the applicants, the board revisited only one condition — the operation of a potential rental or charter boat from the boatel site.
Attorney for the applicants Joseph Stevens told the board as he was aware, the only condition that Schulz was talking about reconsidering is whether or not he could operate a charter boat if he had the opportunity to put a charter boat in there.
Language in the proposal given to the board of appeals referenced the possible restriction of charter boat use.
“We were trying to figure out how that got in there or who brought it up or why it was in there, and I’m not sure. I don’t remember why,” Schulz said.
Discussion was heard on the length of a potential charter boat.
“It’s kind of vague, a charter boat could be a 20-foot boat or whatever,” Schulz said.
“Parking for an of f-site charter boat coming in that has eight guys on it, potentially eight vehicles. Typically not but potentially eight vehicles that are taking up parking spaces that are not accounted for,” said Rob Gunter, senior planner for the county.
Shops, stores and a restaurant are conducive to having a charter operation come and pick up people at the Narrows, Schulz said.
“A charter boat doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to bring a boat, and there’s gong to be 20 cars in the parking lot getting on that boat. It may be a boat bringing customers to the Kent Narrows, which is what we want,” Schulz said.
One item of note is the boatel will have no overnight or transient boat slips; only those authorized to dock in the boatel are able to return after hours.
Board member Craig McGinnes raised a concern that un-inspected charters would run out of the boatel. Schulz said they are not looking to create that type of customer and have charters run out of there. Rather, said Schulz, they are looking at potential charter boats bringing customers to the area.
“I’d love to have a charter boat bring in 40, 50 or 60 people to Kent Narrows, unload them, let them deal in Kent Narrows and get on a boat and go back. That’s a perfect scenario,” he said.
“Most charter boats, you meet them at the dock where the boats dock. Why would they come over and pick them up and drop them off back at your place and then take their boat back to their slip? Why use your place as a pickup and drop off point?” asked Kenneth R. Scott, chairman of the appeals board.
Schulz said there were many variables, citing St. Michaels has another town with charter boats. Those boats have come to Kent Narrows, to the visitor center and pick up visitors to drive to St. Michaels for the day, Schulz said. “We don’t think everybody comes to Kent Narrows, we don’t expect you to stay in Kent Narrows all day every day. We’d like to come, stay in a room and go places and come back. That’s part of the charter boat thing. They may have a char ter boat that runs up to Rock Hall for the day and comes back. When you talk about a charter operation there’s a lot to it. I’d hate to see it be restricted when it could potentially bring people to Kent Narrows.”
Schulz’ biggest contention, he said, is that there are not a lot of places in Kent Narrows for a larger boat to dock with the water depth and access.
Originally the county’s planning commission had discussed charter boats in reference to parking and traffic considerations, Marsh said.
“That was the discussion about large charter boats. We have no intention right now of bringing a large charter boat in,” he said. “But we feel to have that restriction ... is technically (a restriction against) a rental boat there which the Narrows needs a boat rental operation to support the hotels, restaurants, support everything that’s going on.”
Hearing testimony from the applicants and their attorney, McGinnes motioned that they strike the restriction against charter boat activity from their approval. His motion was supported unanimously by the appeals board.
Draft site plan showing planned expansion of the current boatel structure.
The boatel as it currently stands at the Kent Narrows.