Public Meeting on Renaissance Festival’s Potential Move to Lothian June 10

There will be a public information meeting on two development issues impacting the Bristol Community west of Route 4 in Anne Arundel County. The first issue is the Maryland Renaissance Festival’s upcoming special exception zoning hearing. The second revolves around what will happen now that Riverdale Baptist Church has abandoned controversial plans to build a school on property that has been cleared and partially graded.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 at Southern Middle School, 5235 Solomons Island Road in Lothian. The meeting sponsors are the Lothian Civic Association and the Bristol Civic Association. Invited to attend the event are County Councilman Jerry Walker and county zoning experts.

The location of the festival is on 225 acres at 937 Upper Pindell Road in Lothian.

The potential location of the festival is on 225 acres at 937 Upper Pindell Road in Lothian.

Renaissance Festival

This public meeting is in advance of a 9:30 a.m. June 12 administrative hearing in Council County chambers regarding a request from the landowner for a special exception permitting a parcel of land zoned RA at 937 Upper Pindell Road (just west of Route 4) to be used for the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

The festival, which has been operating out of its location in Crownsville for 28 years, submitted an application earlier this year to move to the location in Bristol.

Since the potential move was announced, a Facebook page and online petition have been created to fight the move, each with over 200 likes and signatures, respectively.

On the Maryland Renaissance Festival Facebook page, the president of the festival, Jules Smith, stated in a post last February:

We love being stewards of the property we currently lease but feel it is important to study this opportunity and see if approval from authorities would be permitted to operate in a new area that would allow us to provide an event with improved access, better customer services, greater space and more gentle topography in the village.

Riverdale Baptist Conflict

This area of the county had a protracted zoning conflict that ended in 2010 when the county settled with Riverdale Baptist Church for $3.25 million and the right to build a school at 968 Lower Pindell Road. The County Council had blocked the zoning of the school, on 57 acres, after designating several roads as “scenic and historic.” Neighbors in that case were strongly opposed to the development of the property.

The Capital reported in a story last month that Riverdale Baptist Church would not be moving forward with the construction of the school. The property has been cleared and partially graded. The church took out mature trees, including walnut, oak and hickory, according to The Capital story.

The county had issued the required permits, but the state’s Department of the Environment was withholding other permits for a wetlands crossing when the church decided to not move forward with construction on the 40,000 square foot private school.

What happens next with the Riverdale Baptist Church property is up in the air. They paid $475,000 for it in 2002, according to county land records.

State Sen. Ed Reilly (R-Crofton), said in a telephone interview that he’d like to see the county get the $3.25 million in punitive damages negotiated in the settlement returned to the county—although he didn’t think it was likely to happen.

The parcel remains zoned RA, which is generally intended to preserve agricultural lands and provide very low-density rural single-family detached residential development. Density for this zoning is one dwelling per 20 acres.

Attend the meeting to learn more.

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.


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