BERLIN – County officials approved conceptual plans for a new shopping center on Route 50 near Ocean Pines.
The Worcester County Planning Commission on Thursday approved a sketch plan for Coastal Square Shopping Center, a commercial development proposed just west of McDonalds. Though a big box store is expected to anchor the project, no specific retailers have been named yet.
“They currently don’t have any leases signed,” said Jeff Harman of Becker Morgan Group.
Harman and attorney Mark Cropper met with the planning commission Thursday to present the sketch plan for the project. As proposed, it includes two big box stores, one 37,000 square feet and another 63,000 square feet, as well as shopping center space. The development would be located south of Samuel Bowen Boulevard, which would be extended to serve the new commercial space. Harman said he’d worked extensively with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) regarding access to the project, which will be served by Samuel Bowen Boulevard.
“We’ve been working with them on this configuration and we’re to the point we believe we’ve addressed all of their concerns,” he said. “We’re now coming to you to propose it to hear your thoughts on the center.”
Highlighting plans for the project is a roundabout on Samuel Bowen Boulevard that would provide access to the Route 50 intersection with Route 589.
“Both the county and SHA asked that we look at a traffic circle there,” Harman said. “We believe that that’s the safest, most efficient way for people to come in to the site, circulate around. It deals with the traffic queueing the best way. It keeps traffic moving around the intersection.”
Cropper, who was the attorney for Ocean Landings I and Ocean Landings II, said the connection of Samuel Bowen Boulevard—often referred to as the Route 50 service road—to the Route 589 intersection had long been a goal of local officials.
“They have been waiting patiently for this time to come so finally a connection from Holly Grove Road to 589 can be made, to make that service road fully functional as it was intended—at least in that portion of the corridor,” Cropper said.
Ed Tudor, director of development review and permitting, said county staff did believe a traffic circle was the best option in front of the development.
“We wish we’d had one done down by Walmart,” he said.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the sketch plan for Coastal Square. Developers are expected to return to the commission with a formal site plan this summer.