The developers of a commercial and office complex proposed in Anne Arundel County near the border with Calvert County have asked to postpone a hearing on a needed zoning change as opponents were planning to pack the hearing and challenge the plan.
Ed Wayson, an attorney representing Wayson Land Holdings Limited Partnership, said the company has asked to indefinitely postpone the hearing, which was set for Tuesday in Annapolis, because he needs more preparation time.
The developers say the postponement does not mean their resolve is wavering in the face of opposition from Calvert County residents. "We're definitely moving ahead with this," said Conrad Wayson, a cousin of Ed and a partner in Wayson Land Holdings Limited.
The company is seeking to change the zoning on the land -- 11 acres on the south side of Route 260 just west of Route 2 -- from residential to commercial. Owners of 16 adjacent acres in Calvert County just south of the Wayson land also have requested a rezoning from residential to commercial in order to allow that land to be included in the project.
The proposals have caused alarm among some Calvert County residents, as well as the county's planning department, who believe the Anne Arundel project will create traffic congestion in the region and exacerbate strip mall sprawl. The Calvert residents instead want to concentrate development in the Owings town center, which is across Routes 2 and 260 from the proposed Anne Arundel project.
Two of Calvert County's five commissioners have voiced opposition to the project, while the other three say they do not want to meddle in the zoning affairs of another jurisdiction.
Conrad Wayson said he had expected opposition to his company's proposal. "Any time you make any type of change, you've got to expect people to be against it," Wayson said. One of his critics is a distant cousin, Dave Wayson, who is gathering signatures on a petition against the project.
Ed Wayson said he asked for a hearing postponement because he needs more preparation time, but Wayson Land Holdings also wants to meet with residents in Anne Arundel to discuss their concerns and explain the details of the project. The developer is seeking a meeting with the small area planning committee, a group of 15 Anne Arundel residents. Ed Wayson said Calvert residents would be welcomed to attend that meeting, which will probably take place in the fall. "I'm glad to sit down with them and talk to them and come to a meeting of the minds," he said. "I'd much rather go for the approach where people are talking to each other than a formal hearing, where people are presenting evidence."
Ed and Conrad Wayson say their family's project will "complement" development in the Owings town center and is not likely to aggravate traffic problems or congestion.
"The traffic flow is not going to increase from what's there right now," Conrad Wayson said. "This is a convenience, not a destination facility."
The developers want to build a restaurant, office space, bank, pharmacy and gas station/car wash on the land, which was once owned by State Del. George W. Owings III (D-Anne Arundel, Calvert, Prince George's) and is currently planted with corn.
Critics say building stores and offices on both sides of Route 2 creates traffic flows east and west across the busy highway, which runs counter to the goal of keeping Route 2 a north-south artery. And, they say, it encourages the kind of strip mall development that Calvert is trying to avoid.