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Appeals board defers call on daycare, OKs event barn


Prince Frederick, MD - A local child daycare facility will have to wait another month before it can expand at a local community’s clubhouse. The Calvert County Board of Appeals received a presentation from The Oak Tree Landing Community Association, Inc. to use the subdivision’s club house Monday through Friday as a daycare facility enrolling a maximum of 30 children. The property is located in the Prince Frederick Town Center Old Town Transitional zone.

According to a letter submitted to the board by Denise Bowman of Davis, Upton and Palumbo; the Oak Tree Landing homeowners have a commitment from nearby Little Proteges Early Learning Center to provide services at the clubhouse. The intent of the clubhouse is, according to Bowman, “to have a place for gathering and assembly and to serve as an added amenity to property owners. It has been ascertained that the clubhouse can further serve the Community if its use is extended to permit a licensed day care center to operate within the clubhouse. This use would allow an amenity to those who need child care services within the Community while providing the Applicant, in its capacity as the Oak Tree Landing Homeowners Association, revenue necessary to maintain the clubhouse and possibly reduce association fees.”

“I definitely think it’s an asset to the community,” said Oak Tree Landing Community Association President John R. Vasko Jr. The board was told 92 of the community’s 149 property owners have given their approval to the daycare expansion plan.
Local attorney Kathryn Marsh indicated that allowing more children into the Little Proteges program would be a plus for the community. Marsh said her three children have been enrolled there. “It was important to find a place that was safe for our children,” Marsh said, adding that Little Proteges employs a variety of security measures at their flagship facility. “They have an incredible pre-school program.”

The proposal’s other positive points included a copy of the license issued by the Maryland State Department of Education to Little Proteges Early Learning Center at Oak Tree Landing and approval of the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office for the facility’s fire escape plan.

It was board counsel Carlton Green who found a flaw in the proposal. In addition to noting the county planning commission, Green stated the daycare facility represents a modification to the community’s covenant since the clubhouse is supposed to be available seven days a week for the community to use. “The homeowners are excluded from the use of their property,” said Green.

Attorney David Weigel, who conducted the applicant’s presentation, stated, “all the homeowners are benefitting from it. There has been no protest from any homeowner.” Weigel said if the proposal were denied “the homeowners association would not receive the benefits.”

Board member D.O. Baker pointed out that the clubhouse lease is made out to the development’s holding company and not the homeowners association.
Green recommended deferring the decision until the covenant issue is resolved. Weigel indicated that could be done by early May when the board meets again.

“I think you’ve met all the requirements for a daycare facility,” said Board of Appeals Chair Susie Hance Wells to the applicants, adding that the presentation was “very thorough.”

Despite concerns expressed by residents in proximity to a one-acre farm on Parkers Creek Road in Port Republic, the applicant seeking to convert a barn on the parcel into a small event venue were unanimously granted a special exception. The granting came with several stipulations designed to address the neighbors’ concerns.

Lash Bartenders LLC’s owner Casey St. John said the barn on Barbara Harms’ property will be used for events attracting invitees numbering less than 80. The venue will be known as the Barn at Ogden’s Commons. St. John stated that noise level monitors will be utilized to assure the decibel levels of any music played at the event—baby and bridal showers, small wedding receptions, sweet 16 parties and birthday parties—would not exceed legal toleration levels. “There’s really no room for a full-blown band,” said St. John. The barn area has 24 parking spaces with room on-site for any overflow parking.

One local resident, J. Thomas Kelly, told the board that they should conduct a site visit before granting approval, stating that Parkers Creek Road/Scientist Cliffs Road “is a complex intersection. I just think it’s a great danger to visitors. I have serious concerns about public safety.”

Noting the property is in a Rural Commercial zone, which has a mixed-use character, board member John Ward stated in his motion to approve that event guests will be required to be considerate of the venue neighbors’ safety and enjoyment. The board also stipulated that alcohol must be consumed inside the barn, that “fire lanes” in the vicinity remain open to accommodate emergency vehicles and the “residential noise standards be enforced.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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