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Text amendments regarding outdoor retail and mobile food vending units passed the county commissioners’ preliminary approval Tuesday with little or no discussion.

During a brief work session Tuesday afternoon, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved to send two text amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance to the Calvert County Planning Commission for a work session. Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) was not present Tuesday.

The first amendment proposes to delete a special exception for nonprofits for outdoor retail commercial sale or display areas in the use chart, and create a new use for outdoor season retail sales or display areas.

Staff proposes to delete the phrase “and does not apply to temporary retail sales conducted by non-profit organizations (e.g., season sales)” from the definition of outdoor retail commercial sales or display areas in the county’s commercial retail section of the use charts.

“There again, this has been another, why just nonprofit? Why can’t for-profit also buy these type of sales?” Mary Beth Cook, deputy director of the Department of Community Planning and Building, explained to the commissioners of why the ordinance was proposed to be changed.

Staff proposes to then create a new use for the seasonal sales that would be deleted from the previous use.

The definition for the new outdoor seasonal retail sales or display areas would read, “The use of space exterior to the walls of a retail commercial building for the sale and/or display of temporary seasonal retail items (e.g., firework stands, Christmas tree sales, etc.). This definition does not include outdoor storage for the retail commercial business.”

The outdoor seasonal retail sales or display areas would be limited to a maximum of 90 days per site per calendar year, according to the conditions for the use. In addition, a plot plan must be approved and must illustrate that setback requirements are met.

Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) was concerned how this would affect outdoor garden sale areas, like those at Walmart or Kmart in Prince Frederick.

“Out where they sometimes go out into parking lots and build temporary areas for retail sales that you could construe as being storage because they bring their whole inventory of that product there and store it there while they sell it,” Clark said.

“That’s the intent of existing use 11,” Cook told him. “That is for if you have a commercial business and you want to do outdoor sales or display area, that was the intent of use 11, so 11 would be any associated sales or displays with that business.”

The other amendment proposes to provide enforceable conditions for mobile food vending units in the land use charts of the county ordinance. It would regulate the hours of use, location of the units on site and the size of the area the unit and related accessories, such as chairs, tables and signs, can occupy, according to staff’s presentation.

“The amendment would also clarify that this use does not apply to vending units at events such as fairs, carnivals and festivals,” Cook said.

The amendment conditions regulate that the mobile vending unit and all related accessories must be removed from the site between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless the unit and property on which it is located are under the same ownership.

Cook explained that staff “understands you need to park it somewhere;” that’s why that provision is in the proposed conditions for the use.

In addition, the mobile food vending units can only occupy 400 square feet, or approximately two parking spaces, Cook said.

In other business, the BOCC:

• Unanimously approved to send an application for a $20,000 Stream Restoration Challenge Grant that would aid the planting of stream buffers and provide environmentally friendly stormwater management in the Mill Creek watershed;

• Unanimously approved to submit an application to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a Coastal Communities Initiative Grant for about $60,000 to complete and adopt a floodplain management plan for Broomes Island, develop and submit updated data to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Rating System to maintain the county’s community rating and reduced flood insurance premiums for residents, apply for funding sources to implement the Cove Point Flood Management Agency, adopt coastal flood maps and adopt the new critical area maps;

• Unanimously approved a $93,000 apparatus grant for Calvert Advanced Life Support to purchase a medic unit;

• Unanimously approved a $242,866 budget adjustment to fund the Breezy Point Park and Campground capital project for repairs and renovation on the erosion control groins, which are structures built perpendicular to the shore that trap sand. The commissioners also unanimously approved to award a contract for the project.

aharrison@somdnews.com