East New Market says ‘no’ to Dollar General

EAST NEW MARKET — At the April 10 East New Market meeting commissioners decided the fate of a proposed Dollar General store at the intersection of Rtes. 16 and 392. John Camp from Oxford Chase Development, Inc. presented the possibility at a February work session. The decision was “no.”

At the March town meeting Mr. Camp asked the commission to reconsider its decision. The major roadblock for the development company is the lack of sewer service at the proposed site. Because he cannot perk the property and the town sewer system ends before the intersection, town permission is required for a sewer line tie in and extension. Mayor Caroline Cline asked commissioners for their comments and noted, “We’re free to say whatever we’d like.”

Commissioner Cindy Merrick said her concerns were loitering, unfavorable crowds, and no answer to the frequently asked question, “what’s in it for us.” Commissioner Mary Dennard-Turner felt “we have enough cheap stores around here. In fact we have one three miles away.” Vice Mayor David Tolley said, “My answer is still that the town doesn’t reap any benefits from this. We need to encourage businesses to come but they have to be the right fit for what’s here.” Commissioner Dr. Donna Flaggs agreed.

Mayor Cline added, “We have a sewage system that is overworked. We do not know when it will be upgraded.” She mentioned two small businesses in town that would lose business and suggested “we need to support people who have been an integral part of our community for years and years not some corporate interest outside the state.”

The commission unanimously denied Oxford Chase Development’s request to build the Dollar General store.

The long awaited restoration of the train station may be closer than ever. Following approval by the Maryland Historic Trust of the architectural drawings, the winning bid for restoration of the train station’s exterior will be selected by the project’s architect. Mayor Cline said, from the five submissions “surely we will get someone who will be a good fit.”

Volunteers of the recently organized Sustainable Community Focus Group met to fulfill the requirements for a town to be considered a sustainable community and therefore qualify for grants. “I was pleased to see the enthusiasm of this group and I thought a lot of ground was covered,” the mayor said. If approved as a sustainable community the town will be eligible for grants to fund several projects.

Town clerk Michelle Jackson presented the second reading of Amendments to Rental Ordinance 2017-12. Mayor Cline explained the ordinance was “strong and protects towns and renters.” Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance.

Free flowing drainage ditches in the Sugar Road area continue to be a problem. Mr. Tolley suggested that instead of spending $100,000 for culverts, as recommended at the last meeting by Lane Engineering, completely cleaning the ditches could solve the problem. Town engineer Gordon Heck noted that the culverts would be a permanent fix. Commissioner Tolley said “it’s not a done deal” and he will continue to seek a solution with possible grant funding. He explained the project will be done in phases. Phase #1 includes the in-town drainage ditches; phase #2 is the Depot area.

Former Commissioner John Holliday cited the problem of trash left from feeding feral cats as a community-wide nuisance. Dr. Flaggs said her nonprofit applied for a grant from the Nathan Foundation to fund a feral cat spay/neuter program specifically for East New Market. She noted there are multiple issues, including propagation, disease, and littering. “We have to approach it from all these different aspects. We’re dealing with containing the problem but how do you deal with the littering.” If the cats would be fed on a person’s own property it would solve part of the problem.

County Councilman Rick Price reported that two State Highway Administration representatives and two County Council members will meet quarterly to review county-wide transportation problems. There are still safety concerns about the intersection of Rtes. 14 and 392.

Last year’s Art in the Park, sponsored by the Dorchester Art Center, was so successful the center will sponsor a week-long art camp from June 25-30 at the Pavilion in Friendship Park.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.