Almost without exception, the comments we’ve received from respondents to our survey have been in favor of anything but another grocery store. The problem, of course, is that the property owner (a company) has every right to do what it considers to be in its best interests – as long as that choice is within the zoning for the property.
The property we’re talking about is 22.6 areas of vacant land along Liberty Road, between Georgetown Blvd. and Homeland Drive. It’s zoned B-NR. That stands for Business – Neighborhood Retail and restricts maximum store size to only 10,000 square feet (SF).
The store on the site plan LIDL submitted to the County has just over 36,000 SF, well more than the current 10,000 SF maximum. That’s why the property owner has asked the County to approve an increase in maximum store size – for all B-NR zoned properties in the County – from 10,000 to 40,000 SF. Surprisingly, the County’s response to this request has been to consider raising the limit tenfold from 10,000 SF to – “What the heck?!” – 100,000 SF. That’s 60,000 SF more than the property owner requested for a “neighborhood” retail business.
In case you’re wondering, 100,000 SF is large enough to put large “big box” stores on the lot – which is immediately adjacent to, that is, butt-up against significant residential development. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? We have our opinions, of course, but it’s not up to us. It’s up to the people of Eldersburg to determine whether or not B-NR zoning for this property should be changed and, if it is, to lobby for or against a seventh grocery store in lieu of other development options.
And that’s the point of this post. The people of Eldersburg clearly have something to say and aren’t particularly shy about saying it. All they need is a forum to express themselves about this one particular issue: “What would they like to see, or not see, on this special property?”
And that’s why we’re encouraging Commissioner Doug Howard, who represents Eldersburg, to hold a town meeting as soon as possible. Because talking about issues out in the open, directly to your elected officials – along with senior government management and the property owner, if they’ll attend – is the way people can affect change that protects and improves the quality of their lives.
We’ll do our part. We’ll do everything we can to get as many people as possible to this town meeting, whatever their points of view. And we’re going to encourage Commissioner Howard to hold the meeting, but then nothing motivates a Commissioner more than hearing directly from his or her constituents.
So, if you agree that a town meeting would be a good thing, please call or email Commissioner Doug Howard and ask him to schedule that meeting, in Eldersburg, as soon as possible. Here’s his contact information…
District 5 Commissioner Doug Howard
Board of County Commissioners
Come on. Let’s do this. Raise your hand. Speak up. Participate, because, as we like to say here at EvenBetterPlaces.org, “If you don’t tell people what you want, they’re going to give you what they want.”