Route 611 Property Rezoned For Future Retail Use; Two New Restaurants Proposed For Near Airport

BERLIN–The Worcester County Commissioners approved rezoning a Route 611 property this week to allow for retail development.

On Tuesday the commissioners approved a request to rezone a 2.6 acre agricultural property at the intersection of Route 611 and Sinepuxent Road to C-1 commercial. Attorney Joe Moore, representing property owner Joseph Balsamo, said the property’s small size and proximity to the Ocean City Municipal Airport made most A-2 development options unfeasible.

According to Moore, the property’s small size and location made it unique. In addition to being situated at the intersection of Route 611 and Sinepuxent Road, it is close to Mystic Harbour and the airport.

“We are directly in the flight path of the north-south runway,” Moore said.

Because of that, any development there cannot exceed 80 feet in height. Between that and the property’s size, Moore said 11 of the 18 permitted uses allowed in an A-2 zone could not be pursued on the parcel. Of the 44 special exception uses allowed in the A-2, 28 of them would not be feasible on the site.

Moore said the property had been zoned commercial before a comprehensive rezoning in 2009.

Planner George Cardwell told the commissioners retail development on the property would give motorists traveling on Route 611 an option further away from the more congested end of the road.

Traffic engineer Betty Tustin agreed. She said as proposed plans called for the construction of two 2,500-square-foot restaurants on the property.

“This is not a big traffic generator at all,” she said, adding that most visitors to the establishments would probably already be traveling on Route 611.

She said crash data revealed just nine crashes on the stretch of road near the site in three years.

Tustin said she didn’t expect truck traffic associated with retail development on the site to use Sinepuxent Road.

When asked about access to the proposed restaurants, Tustin said there were several options.

“All this will be worked out as we go through the site plan approval process,” she said.

Phyllis Wimbrow, the county’s deputy director of development review and permitting, said the Worcester County Planning Commission had provided the request with a favorable recommendation.

“The planning commission concurred that there are no beneficial agricultural uses for the petitioned area…,” she said. “Based upon its review the planning commission concluded a change in zoning would be more desirable in terms of the objectives of the comprehensive plan.”

The commissioners voted 5-0, with Bud Church and Joe Mitrecic absent, to approve the rezoning request.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.