Maryland Planners Suggest Correcting Error

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January 12, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission has recommended correcting a critical area “mapping error” for St. Mary’s Yachting Center, formerly called Dennis Point Marina, in Drayden, Md.

The marina is in what is known as a Limited Development Area (LDA) under critical area zoning but the adjacent campground is in a Resource Conservation Area (RCA), which does not allow campgrounds, makes the campground a non-conforming use, and doesn’t allow expansion, Frederick-based The Bay Net reported.

The St. Mary’s County Commissioners in September corrected a similar mapping error for Buzz’s Marina in Ridge. The commissioners in August voted to approve changes in zoning regulations for campgrounds at marinas. Under the regulation changes, up to 15 campsites will be allowed as an accessory use in the Commercial Marine (CM) zoning district. And, up to 20 campsites will be allowed in the Rural Preservation District (RPD). Any campgrounds larger would require conditional use approval from the St. Mary’s County Hoard of Appeals.

The issue became controversial in late 2010 when the appeals board ruled that camping wasn’t allowed at Buzz’s Marina. Camping continued there and a Land Use and Growth Management (LUGM) inspector descended on the campground in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, 2011, waking two sleeping campers. Several commissioners were critical of the action. Waterfront campgrounds were touted as an important tourism amenity. (Click here to read an earlier story in Woodall's Campground Management.)

At the planning commission public hearing on Tuesday, LUGM Environmental Planner Sue Veith said the original mapping error could have been made because the campground at the then Dennis Point Marina was in a wooded area and could not been seen from the aerial maps used for the mapping.

Veith said the issue for St. Mary’s Yachting Center came up because the property is for sale and the prospective buyers were concerned about what they could do with the property.

Neighbor Paul Matteau was the only person to testify at the public hearing. He said of the current operator, “The place hasn’t been managed well.” He complained about noise and trash from the current operator and was concerned about how a new operator would run it. “I want to know what the next step is,” he said.

Planning Commission Vice President Shelby Guazzo asked that whatever changes are made there come before the commission. Staff assured her that would be the case.

As with the Buzz’s Marina case, the planning commission recommendation will have to go to the county commissioners for approval and then on to the State Critical Areas Commission for a final decision. Veith said the staff of that state agency had given an indication they were inclined to approve it.

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