- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
La Plata residents voted Wednesday to reject the annexation of 14.11 acres for the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter near the corner of U.S. 301 and Rosewick Road.
The official tally of the referendum vote was 866 voting to reject the annexation and 449 voting to approve, according to town officials Thursday afternoon.
Vote counting was suspended at midnight Wednesday for the referendum and resumed Thursday morning to finish tallying the votes.
Two lines stretched out the doors of La Plata Town Hall on Wednesday as residents waited to exercise their right to vote for or against the annexation. The polls were open noon to 8 p.m.
Of 5,208 registered voters, 1,317 residents cast paper ballots in the special election and 99 absentee ballots were submitted. The referendum vote was made possible last year when the town appealed a circuit court’s ruling against a referendum vote and took the matter to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The appeals court overturned the lower court decision. Ninety-nine absentee ballots were submitted for the special election vote.
“I’m thrilled no matter which way it goes that people have come out, and they’ve made a statement that they care about this town,” said Mary Beth Chandler, a member of Save La Plata, a group in opposition of the annexation.
The average wait time for voters was one hour.
Two members of Save La Plata and two members of the group in favor of the annexation, Moving La Plata Forward, remained inside the polling area throughout the day as observers to make sure votes were cast fairly in a battle that began in late 2011 when the town’s council voted 3-2 in favor of the annexation of the property.
Johel Limited Partnership owns 10 acres of the parcel to be annexed. The vacant Mitchell Supply building currently sits on the property.
“It was a real good turnout, and people will have their say,” said Jim Jarboe, a member of Save La Plata. Jarboe, who lives outside of the town limits could not vote in the special election, helped to gather resident signatures in late 2011 for a referendum vote.
Patti Gyorda has lived in the town for 43 years and said she voted against the annexation, because she did not think a Wal-Mart Supercenter would add that many jobs to the town after other businesses would be forced to cut jobs.
“My thoughts were the congestion, and we don’t need the super Walmart,” Gyorda said. “We have enough going on here.”
Sue Greer of Greer Law Firm, who represents Johel Limited Partnership, said they were pleased “that the citizens had the opportunity to cast their vote and it was nice to see democracy in action.”