The Leonardtown council

The town council members are, front row, Mary Slade, left, Mayor Dan Burris, Christy Hollander, and back row, Jay Mattingly, Hayden Hammett and Tyler Alt.

The Leonardtown Town Council on Monday approved a change order to its contract with the firm that designed the municipality’s new downtown plan, paving the way for designers to lay out some of its recommendations starting this year.

In July 2018, the town signed a $33,000 contract with Baltimore-based Mahan Rykiel to update its strategic downtown plan. After engaging with stakeholders to develop the draft during work sessions, the firm laid out several recommendations to build out the town square and surrounding subdivisions.

The consultants returned a number of recommendations to enhance pedestrian walkways and connectivity throughout the county seat and reinforce the town’s role as a shopping and nightlife destination.

The council essentially voted to extend its contract with Mahan Rykiel at a cost of just over $27,000, so the firm may implement some of its shorter term recommendations starting this budget cycle. Those include updating the town’s branding strategy, implementing way-finding signage and creating an alley network plan.

“It’s pretty big stuff,” Councilman Jay Mattingly said after the meeting.

Councilman Hayden Hammett voted against the change order, and said after the meeting he would have “preferred to see it bid.”

The contract was initially awarded last year with the approval of the council, and did not go to solicitation, Laschelle McKay, town administrator for Leonardtown, said during the meeting.

“Starting over with another consultant, we’d really be starting over from square one,” McKay said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from the businesses downtown. We want to see this move forward.”

McKay said there was no firm timeline for rolling out the recommendations, but hopes stakeholder meetings will start next month.

In other business, the town floated out a zoning amendment that would allow breweries, distilleries and wineries as permitted uses in districts zoned as commercial business, commercial highway and commercial marine. The amendment would replace the current permitted use that allows microbreweries in those areas, opening the door for larger distillery operations.

“We’ve had a number of people who are interested in opening breweries, distilleries,” McKay said, specifically near the Leonardtown Wharf, which is zoned as commercial marine, and on a parcel along Route 5 zoned as commercial highway, she noted.

“It’s just a big economic development tool,” McKay said.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed amendment at the council’s meeting Aug. 12.

Council members also discussed the Fox 5 D.C. “Zip Trip,” slated to stop in Leonardtown on Aug. 2 from 7 to 11 a.m., as part of the broadcast news station’s summer tour of select Maryland towns. The Zip Trip team visited Lexington Park last year, and previously set up shop in Leonardtown in 2010 and 2015. Council members encouraged the public to join the live audience during the TV station’s report.

Twitter: @TaylorEntNews

Twitter: @TaylorEntNews