Planning Commission Halts Hollywood Shopping Center Project - Southern Maryland Headline News

Planning Commission Halts Hollywood Shopping Center Project

HOLLYWOOD, Md.—The St. Mary's County planning commission finally came to a decision on a proposed 14-acre shopping center project in Hollywood on April 29 after months of delays by rejecting the proposal by a 5 to 2 vote.

The developer of the project, Dean Partnership LLP, through their representative Kimley/Horn Associates, continued to press their case that their project, which called for three entrances to the old farm property on Sotterley Road, Old Three Notch Road and Three Notch Road, that they would provide enough road improvements to ensure that the planned 13,000 trips it would generate would not pose a major problem.

But a majority of the commission did not agree, even though the applicant had provided a computer based simulation showing the traffic flow at the major intersection in Hollywood would be improved by the project's approval.

When Howard Thompson, the chair of the commission, saw the projection on the screens in the hearing chamber he said he did not believe the traffic flow the applicant was showing as current was as smooth as they presented.

He said he did not believe the installation of the center, which would include a gas station and convenience store, a pharmacy, a food service store and other retail venues constructed over three phases, would be served well by the confluence of the roads there.

"That was the gist of it," Thompson said in a later interview.

Moreover, most of the commissioners continued to consider an additional eight acres immediately adjacent to the property where a car dealership had been planned as a completely separate project as part of the overall traffic scheme.

It had been revealed at the last meeting two weeks ago that Kimley/Horne had not included that 8-acre property in their presentation, though they had at their first pass at the commissioners back in December of last year.

Because the 8-acre property, which could have about 400 new parking spaces for the dealership, was entered in the record it, the commission was bound to consider it as part of its deliberations.

For commission member Shelby Guazzo, it came down to the applicant's need for an entrance in and out of the development from a 600-foot portion of Sotterley Road that earned her rejection.

She said to have an entrance to the property there would mean encroaching on wet lands nearby to widen the road.

The developer's plans also called for access to the Sotterley Road entrance from either east or west bound lanes of the short road; Guazzo said if they had asked for a right-in and right-out only entrance it would have made the project more acceptable.

"We're trying to plan for the future and that road would have to be widened," Guazzo said. "And their traffic numbers did not take into account that 8-acre parcel."

Thompson said he hoped that the developers would reapply, since the project itself could be of great value to Hollywood.

The applicant just had to abandon their push for an access road directly off of Sotterley Road, he said.

"It's a shame, I wanted it," Thompson said of the project. "There are ways to make this work."

For more local stories from Calvert and St. Mary's counties, visit the County Times newspapers online.

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