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Big box foes ask court to void zoning change


Concept drawing of Armory Square project

Prince Frederick, MD – Opponents of a proposal to develop two parcels in the Prince Frederick Town Center are asking for a court review of recently approved changes to zoning laws that appear to favor the developer. According to Nicholas J. Ferrante, the attorney for the plaintiffs—the Calvert Coalition for Smart Growth Inc. and Michael S. King of Prince Frederick—a petition for judicial review was filed in Calvert County Circuit Court Aug. 25. King owns a mixed use building across Route 2/4 (Solomons Island Road) from land where Calvert Middle School was once located.

The petition requests that the court “reverse, modify or invalidate” the recent decision by the Calvert County Commissioners amending the Prince Frederick Town Center Zoning Ordinance. On July 26 the county commissioners voted 3-to-2 to enact a text amendment to the zoning ordinance impacting the “New Town Subarea” of Prince Frederick. The amendment allows for an increase in residential density, an increase in maximum building height, changes to parameters for distance between buildings and roads and would permit home improvement centers, retail commercial buildings and wholesale and/or building materials businesses up to 150,000 square feet.

The old middle school property, which is owned by the county and envisioned to be developed as Armory Square, is one of the two parcels at the center of the New Town Subarea controversy. The other tract, just east of Armory Square, is owned by Bargo LLC. Minutes after the commissioners approved the zoning amendments, Bargo’s principals presented representatives from Northern Virginia-based Peterson Companies. The presentation that followed had been a scheduled agenda item, leading coalition members to conclude the approval of the zoning text amendments was a done deal at the outset.

Ferrante told The BayNet the petitioners contend the text amendment’s provisions are “spot zoning” and therefore illegal. “All of these amendments are inconsistent with the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan,” said Ferrante.

The attorney explained he has filed the petition in court, county government officials would then be notified and “send over the record.” Ferrante said both parties will file briefs and a court hearing date can then be set.

Ferrante stated he doesn’t believe a court hearing will take place before December.

A call to County Attorney John Norris had not been returned as this story was being filed.

Previous stories on the Prince Frederick Town Center controversy.

Dec. 2 

Jan. 25 

June 17 

July 27 

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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