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A final hurdle remains after planners okay Charlotte Hall Verizon store

The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission Monday night approved the concept plan for a Verizon store on Route 5 in Charlotte Hall. The project, however, faces a potential hurdle. The county commissioners have to approve a zoning text amendment for the project to fly. Currently it does not meet the zoning ordinance requirements for adequate public facilities (APF) because of traffic congestion on Route 5.

The proposed store is on the old Seymour Auto Parts property that now contains several businesses, including a beauty salon. The store would be a stand-alone, 3,000 square foot building on the east side of the property, which is between Community Bank of Tri-County and Rita’s Italian Ice. It would have entrances and exits on Route 5 (Three Notch Road) and Charlotte Hall Road.

The property sits near the Golden Beach Road intersection, which the state has determined has a level of service that is “failing.” Current county regulations require a higher level of service (level C) or require the developer of the property in question to bring the road up to that level of service. The fix along that stretch of highway would be financially impossible for a small developer to accomplish.

Planning Commission Vice Chair Shelby Guazzo and member Hal Willard both felt having a back entrance to the property would mitigate Route 5 traffic. And Deputy Director of Public Works and Transportation John Groeger said the anticipated hourly trips into the new store would have a minimal impact on traffic.

Tommy McKay, of McKay’s Food and Drug, said at a recent public forum that his proposed shopping center just down the road is also being impacted by the current regulations.

The Department of Land Use and Growth Management is proposing relaxing the APF requirements for town centers to allow such project to proceed.

At Monday’s planning commission meeting, member Merl Evans noted the lack of public water and sewer in the Charlotte Hall area and said perhaps what needed to be done is remove that area from the town center designation, if there wasn’t the political will for public water and sewer service. “It we aren’t going to make a commitment, call it something different,” he said.

The Verizon site has the proper zoning and also has public water but a large, individual septic system designed to handle the property as proposed to be built-out. It is the road issue that has been the holdup on proceeding with the new store.

The commissioners have a public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance text changes on October 29. The proposal to proceed with the changes was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Lawrence Ja

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