Queen Anne’s Puts Big-Box Stores to Referendum

As reported in the Chestertown Spy, Queen Anne’s county residents will vote on whether to maintain a 2011 law that lifted the size restriction on retail stores in areas zoned “Suburban Commercial.”  The law overruled the recommendation of the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission, which found the law inconsistent with the County’s comprehensive plan.

Ordinance 11-06 would repeal the maximum gross floor area of 65,000 square feet for certain use in the Suburban Commercial Zoning District in Queen Anne’s County.  According to the Chestertown Spy, the Ordinance was adopted by the Commission last year, but grassroots organizations assembled enough signatures to postpone its implementation and bring the question to referendum.

Queen Anne’s Conservation Executive Director Jay Falstad describes the impact he thinks this vote will have on the region,

Either the county will remain a predominantly rural county, with unique small towns where citizens support local businesses, or we’ll go the way of Middletown and Dover, where developers dominate and pave things over, and the big retail stores squeeze out the little guy.

Developer Mareen Waterman, a supporter of the legislation, told the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners last year that the size restrictions have a negative impact on the County’s economy.

Limitations on size has been detrimental to our tax base, because it prevents major tenants from locating in our county – thus preventing the smaller stores [from succeeding] near bigger anchor tenants.

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