A concept site plan for the Millstone Landing 7-Eleven store in Lexington Park was denied by the St. Mary’s County Planning Commission at a meeting on Monday, in part because of concerns of increased traffic.
The hearing regarding the proposed connivence store was continued from Sept. 14, when representatives of the applicant were asked to provide additional traffic information to the commission before the floor was opened for public comment.
Mike Riemann, a representative for the Becker Morgan Group, reminded the board the store would be located at the corner of Millstone Landing Road and Three Notch Road, where a Golden Corral restaurant, which recently closed, is located.
“There were questions about road improvements. We conducted a traffic study and submitted that for review,” Riemann said. The State Highway Administration expressed concern with the double left turn lane queuing from Route 235 onto Millstone Landing Road, “so we’re lengthening those left turn lanes by at least 50 feet as part of this project,” which will allow enough room for the stacking of cars turning onto the road, he said.
Howard Thompson, chair of the planning commission, pointed out the traffic study was conducted in June of 2019 while kids were not attending school and noted buses could impact traffic patterns, but Betty Tustin, a traffic engineer from The Traffic Group, said COVID-19 is preventing them from conducting another study.
Another member of the planning commission, Joesph Van Kirk, said according to the traffic study the proposed convenience store would create “four times the traffic using those failing intersections,” but Tustin replied while the study shows about 4,000 daily trips on the road, 75% of them are already driving through, regardless of the placement of the 7-Eleven.
During public comment, St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan (R), who is also a resident of Millstone Landing Road, called in to air his worries about the proposed store. The commissioner’s wife, Maria Morgan, died 16 months after sustaining injuries in a July 2011 car crash at the Millstone Landing Road intersection.
“Traffic along that road is terrible,” he said, adding, traffic studies are paid for by the client so they “generally meet client’s objectives at the end of the day.”
After discussing a few more concerns, the planning commission voted 4-2 to deny the concept site plan for the store. Thompson, Van Kirk, and members Patricia Robrecht and William “BJ” Hall voted against the plan; Joseph Fazekas and Merl Evans voted to pass the plan.