The developer of a Wal-Mart planned for Dunkirk failed to get an exemption from upcoming legislation that could limit the size of "big-box" stores.
"This board does not wish to enter this agreement," said Calvert County commissioners President David F. Hale (R-Owings) after Tuesday's 3-2 vote. "It would be inappropriate to send the developer's agreement forward when we're discussing big-box legislation."
The Faison and Dunkirk Gateway Project Development Agreement -- submitted to the Calvert County Planning Commission by the Board of Commissioners this year -- was sent back to the developer to be made into a more formal petition with a cost-benefit analysis. But when the developer came back with the required information, the commissioners decided not to send the agreement to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.
Hale said the commissioners will be looking at big-box regulations at a meeting tentatively scheduled for Aug. 10.
"It's so close to the big-box regulations [decision]," Hale said, "we aren't even going to consider the agreement."
The property slated for the Wal-Mart is in the Dunkirk Town Center, on the east side of Maryland Route 4 between Penwick Lane and Plaza Drive. The proposal was for a 200,000-square-foot store. Big-box legislation under discussion could limit the size to the 75,000- to 150,000-square-foot range.
Much of the public has come out against exempting the Dunkirk project from proposed size regulations, said Commissioner Susan Shaw (R-Huntingtown). "We've gotten lots and lots of letters, e-mails and telephone calls," Shaw said. "It's running about 50-50 [for expansion of the Wal-Mart] in Prince Frederick and 95-5 in Dunkirk, with 95 percent in support of size limits."
The commissioners have received more than 150 e-mails from the public, Hale said. Many of the more than 60 people who spoke at a public hearing this month at Calvert High School supported the limits, which have been in the drafting and review process for a year. Public comment was officially closed at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Commissioners Wilson H. Parran (D-At Large) and Shaw voted against rejecting the petition and said the agreement should be allowed to go forward after months of consideration by the planning board. They said their vote did not imply any support for the agreement.
"If we were not serious about doing this, we should not have forwarded it the first time," Wilson said.
The agreement did not answer all questions about the project's environmental and economic impacts, Commissioner Gerald W. Clark (R-Lusby) said, adding that it would be senseless to send it back with a big-box legislation decision coming up so soon.
"We don't know if there will be regulations," said Greg Bowen, the county's deputy planning director, "but if the regulations go in place, it sounds like the proposal will be impacted by it."
The developer has estimated that the project will create more than 200 jobs during construction and more than 500 jobs during operations.