BERLIN – Plans to rezone the former Pine Shore Golf facility on Beauchamp Road will move forward after the proposal earned the support of the Worcester County Planning Commission last week.
The planning commission voted to pass a request to rezone the property residential on to the Worcester County Commissioners with a favorable recommendation. Stephen Nichols told the commission his family purchased the foreclosed property in 2014.
“Our intention was to take a depressed property and develop it in a reasonable manner,” Nichols read from a statement submitted by Charles Nichols.
Mark Cropper, the family’s attorney, said the property should be rezoned from its current E-1 estate zoning to R-1 residential because the existing classification was a mistake and because the neighborhood had changed since the zoning was assigned.
Cropper said officials in recent years had determined that E-1 zoning was not consistent with the goals of the county’s comprehensive plan and was to be slowly phased out.
“The most appropriate zoning classification if E-1 is to be eliminated is R-1,” he said.
Cropper also pointed out that in spite of the E-1 zoning at the Pine Shore Golf property, it was surrounded by properties zoned residential. He said the fact that the property was being used as a golf course when it received its E-1 classification in 2009 was further proof of a zoning mistake.
Cropper said that as it was currently zoned, the property could be developed with 54 homes. If it were to be given R-1 zoning, he said it would be developed with 80 homes.
Betty Tustin, the traffic engineer hired by the Nichols family, said development of the land would have little effect on area roads and would not require changes to the intersection of Beauchamp Road and Route 589.
“The number of trips being generated is pretty small,” she said.
Commission members expressed some concern however. Jay Knerr pointed out that Route 589 was severely congested at times. Tustin replied that the congestion was farther north on the road.
Commission chair Marlene Ott said Beauchamp Road itself experienced a significant amount of traffic during the summer.
“The ditches on either side of Beauchamp are really deep,” she said. “It’s a narrow road.”
Commission member Gerard Barbierri questioned Tustin’s study, as it was based on a development of 54 lots, not the 80 that would be associated with the site if it was R-1. Tustin maintained that even with additional vehicles, the roads would not need to be improved.
“This just doesn’t generate a lot of traffic,” she said.
Commission member Brooks Clayville said he’d heard few complaints from Ocean Pines residents regarding traffic in recent years but said he still didn’t support the change in zoning. He believes a rezoning should take place in the future once questions regarding sewer capacity in the area are cleared up and once Route 589 has been improved.
“I think someday this parcel should be rezoned an R-2,” he said.
Cropper said there was no state funding available for Route 589.
“There’s no money for it today,” he said. “There’s not going to be any money for it for many, many years. The only way 589 is going to see improvements is by developers.”
Planning commission members eventually decided they did not agree with Cropper’s claim that there had been a change in neighborhood but were willing to recommend a rezoning based on the mistakes he pointed out. The commission voted 5-1, with Clayville opposed, to support reclassifying the property as R-1.