Queen Anne's County board says goodbye Ruby Tuesday's
Appeals board overturns planning board, QA's County Commission rulings
By CAINE CORTELLINO, Staff Writer, The Star Democrat, February 8, 2008
CENTREVILLE - After a brief executive session, members of the Queen Anne's County Board of Appeals unanimously overturned the Planning Commission's July 2007 approval for construction of a Ruby Tuesday's restaurant near the corner of State Routes 18 and Route 522, next to Chesapeake Outdoors.
Citing failure of the site-plan to fulfill prerequisites detailed in the county code regarding building design and concerns of increased danger to citizens resulting from additional traffic, Board of Appeals Chairman William D. Moore concluded there were sufficient grounds for the new ruling.
"There were two items, traffic
and guidelines," said Moore.
Led by Chester resident Jack Broderick, the appeal was filed by four Kent Island residents and the Queen Anne's Conservation Association in August 2006, less than a month after county commissioners approved the proposed traffic mitigation plan and the planning commission gave the go ahead on the site-plan.
The decision was handed down at a 4 p.m. hearing as with attorneys for the developer and property owner as well as the appellants eagerly looked on.
Prior to this meeting, the appeals board had already held two lengthy hearings on the matter examining significant amounts of evidence from both sides. At a Dec. 13, 2006 meeting, the board heard expert testimony from Steven J. Cohoon, chief of Land Use and Zoning for the county; Ken Schmid, a traffic engineer and owner of Traffic Concepts; Mathew T. Allen, a civil engineer with Bohler Engineering, in addition to many citizens.
Attorney Joseph Stevens, representing the developer, argued at earlier hearings that there were not "any capacity problems to fix."
Testimony in favor of the
restaurant did not appear to sway board members as they reviewed the evidence
"I suggest that the gulf between the guidelines set forth in Section 18:1-28.D(5) and the proposed site plan is so wide that it is impossible to conclude that the developer made the requisite good faith effort to comply with the guidelines," wrote Kehoe in a memo to the Board.
During the meeting, Kenneth Scott, appeals board vice chairman, tried to broker a compromise that would have not completely overturned the planning commission's decision.
Scott suggested the board should not approve the site plan as is, but rather seek further concessions on mitigating increased traffic beyond the $11,000, which he, along with the other board members and the appellants, deemed inadequate.
According to transcripts of the hearing he wanted the "developer to come back and show a good faith effort to comply with the design guidelines set forth ..."
Kehoe told the board, in his memo, the "cost in lieu of fee" satisfied requirements in the county code and was not a valid basis for reversal.
The Scott motion failed to
receive any support from the other members and was removed from consideration.
"The proximity of the subject use to this overpass … turning left across Postal Road to have access from westbound 50/301 or areas north of 50/301 creates an undue hazard at this location," said Dean.
Moore said the site is a
difficult place to situate any type of new business that would affect the
area's traffic flow.
Scott agreed with Dean's conclusion, but asked that his previous point on design guidelines be included. The motion to grant the appeal was approved without further discussion.
After the hearing, Jack Broderick
called it "the right decision."
Others joining Broderick and the Conservation Association in the suit included his wife, "Liz," and Stephen J. and Paula M. Kougoures. Richard Altman of Bennett Point Road in Queenstown is the head of the Conservation Association and active in many local planning issues.
"I am very pleased, I feel
that the Board of Appeals did right," said Altman.
Attempts to reach Stevens for comment were unsuccessful before The Star Democrat went to press.
Read More News