Majority Of Proposed Development Set As Open Space

SNOW HILL – A small development in Bishopville bordering the St. Martin River will keep two-thirds of its land as open space with the majority of lots inside the Critical Area.       

The 15-lot cluster subdivision, to be developed by prominent Worcester County developer Jack Burbage, sits on 242 acres off Salt Grass Point Rd. Ten of the lots fall within the Critical Area.

The project will be taken before the Maryland Critical Area Commission to ask for a remedy to a mapping mistake, which classified a pond on the property as tidal. The pond is non-tidal, the developer says.

If the Critical Area Commission does not approve the change, the project plan would be modified.

“We’re back to the drawing board [if that happens],” project attorney Hugh Cropper said. “We don’t really have a plan B. We go back to a 12-lot subdivision.”

Project planners, before the Worcester County Planning Commission last week seeking sketch plan approval, emphasized the amount of open space left in the development.

“It will have a nice nature area, 100 acres or better,” said Cropper.

“We’re pleased to retain a substantial amount if not all of the forested areas on the site,” Bob Hand, land planner, said.

Burbage could have added another lot in the forested area, but chose to leave the forest intact.

Two-thirds of the property is contiguous open space, Cropper said.

But with less than 50 percent of that open space uplands, as required by law, the project might need a waiver at the preliminary sketch plan step in the county approvals process of that requirement.

The developer would like to add some passive recreation, Cropper said, like walking trails or a bird watching station to the site’s open space.

The sketch plan discussed Thursday also included a pier on the St. Martin River. The pier will have one boat slip per building lot.

“It’s a community pier, not individual piers,” Cropper said.

“It’ll be the most restrictive. Fifteen would be the most restrictive,” said Hand.

Sewer service, one of the most significant questions any building project faces in Worcester County, has not been settled.

Cropper said he is exploring, as suggested by the Planning Commission earlier in the process, a connection to the Lighthouse Sound sewer system, but he is not sure there is a way to make the connection work.