SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners approved a request to rezone a property near the intersection of Route 113 and Market Street in Snow Hill.
The commissioners voted 7-0 to approve a request to rezone 4.7 acres on the north side of Market Street from agricultural (A-1) to commercial (C-2). The vacant building currently on the site was formerly one of the county’s retail liquor stores.
Hugh Cropper, attorney for the property owner, said he was requesting the rezoning because he believed the agricultural zoning designation had been a mistake. He pointed out that the land was originally zoned industrial and had been reclassified as agricultural during the county’s last comprehensive rezoning in spite of the fact that a retail liquor store was on the site at the time.
“The planning commission found that the existing structure was made a nonconforming use in the 2009 update,” Cropper said. “The planning commission concluded that the C-2 general commercial would therefore be more in keeping with the actual uses located on the property.”
He said the property was surrounded by agricultural land but that there were several commercial uses across the street.
“The planning commission found that commercial zoning is compatible with existing and proposed development and existing environmental conditions,” Cropper said. “The planning commission perceived that this portion of Market Street corridor is a natural commercial area and based upon its review it found the commercial zoning is compatible with the comprehensive plan and in keeping with its goals and objectives.”
Area property owners, however, questioned the benefits of rezoning the property. Ann Northam, who said she owned property adjacent to the parcel being considered, said rezoning it would change the character of the neighborhood.
“How do you collectively define responsible growth?” she said. “One of the most important questions to ask when any new project is being proposed is, is this growth going to create a safety hazard for our citizens? In my opinion any increase in traffic at the intersection of East Market Street and Route 113 dualized will definitely create a safety hazard. That is not responsible growth.”
She said that if the property was rezoned the property owner should have to pay for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Market Street and Route 113.
Snow Hill resident Daniel Hart said the property owner should not be forced to undergo that expense, especially since the property itself was not directly on Route 113.
Laurel Campbell, a resident of Market Street, said no one in the neighborhood had been told what the redevelopment plans for the property were.
“If it’s to be a large, say convenience store, or something like that I am concerned about extra hard surface paving,” she said. “I live on the edge of the Hallett Heights neighborhood. The flooding has really increased since McDonald’s and Duck Inn and Dollar General have gone in.”
She added that litter was also a concern.
“If I take a walk up the road I pretty much have to bring a trash can with me,” she said.
Fred Schultz, a resident of Evergreen Terrace, said he too was worried about the traffic a large convenience store could bring to Market Street.
“That’s going to create a whole lot of congestion,” he said.
Though he did not address potential development plans for the property, Cropper said the planning commission had found that rezoning the parcel would not negatively impact transportation patterns.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rezoning.