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The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners sent a text amendment regarding accessory sale items at retail greenhouses and nurseries to a public hearing, after the board came to a unanimous consensus Tuesday.

The text amendment will allow the sale of non-plant items at retail greenhouses and nurseries in the Rural and Residential zoning districts. “The sales inventory shall consist primarily of plant materials and their containers; and retail sales of pots, mulch, topsoil and soil amendments,” the proposed amendment states. The proposal also adds several conditions to the operation of such retail greenhouses and nurseries, including that the area devoted to accessory sales can be no more than 1 percent of the parcel or lot area with a 1-acre maximum.

“This is specifically out of agricultural uses, so it would have to relate to a farm,” Deputy Director of Community Planning and Building Mary Beth Cook said, noting that greenhouses and nurseries not associated with farms are subject to separate requirements in the county’s zoning ordinance.

“Anything that exists today that doesn’t meet these requirements would be considered existing, non-conforming,” explained Cook. “If they wanted to expand, they would have to meet the requirements.”

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) said, “No less than three agency comments, separate agency comments that seem to have a relative concern or interest, recommended to include the phrase ‘but not limited to’ into condition No. 3. But I don’t see in the text that recommendation coming through. So, it gives the appearance that we the government are smart enough to identify what items only can be sold, as opposed to letting the market help decide what items. What happened to the recommendation of ‘but not limited to?’”

Cook explained that the Calvert County Planning Commission wanted to limit the number of items that could be sold.

Slaughenhoupt said he has “a little more faith in the marketplace” to determine which items are sold.

Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) said he thinks what the planning commission has sent to the board is “very reasonable” and the recommendation doesn’t seem different from “what may come from this board.”

“The only limitation here is the other accessory items that you’re allowed to sell there with” other plant material, Clark said, adding that this keeps retail greenhouses and nurseries from turning into quasi-commercial and commercial ventures outside of the town centers, where the county has pushed commercial development.

In other business, the BOCC:

• Unanimously approved a 2010 Sub-Recipient Agreement with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency for an alternate Emergency Operations Center in case of loss of the primary site, located at the historic courthouse in Prince Frederick. The alternate location is the former Substance Abuse Services building at 315 Stafford Road in Barstow;

• Paid tribute to Len Zuza for his leadership of the Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society.

“We all think a lot of your work,” Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) told Zuza.

SMOCS, which began as a grassroots initiative, works to reestablish oyster reefs in local creeks. According to the county’s proclamation, SMOCS has successfully replanted and perpetuated expansion of numerous oyster reefs in and around the county, laying down 7.5 million live oysters in five years. Slaughenhoupt said Zuza’s work has not used “a single taxpayer dollar.”

“I would like to thank you very much for this honor,” Zuza told the commissioners. “You can come up with the best ideas in the world, but unless you have good people to work with and unless you have community support, it will come to nothing.”