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2004-11-13
Talbot County, MD. Voters OK Size Cap, Block Lowe’s.

Voters in Talbot County, Maryland, hard by the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, ratified an earlier vote by county officials to place a size cap of 65,000 s.f. on retail buildings. By a 53% majority, voters supported the cap, which the County Council originally imposed last December. The referendum was triggered after the Lowe's home improvement chain wanted to build a much larger store in the county, and decided to challenge the council vote. People "don't want to be steamrolled by outside interests even though those interests are dumping tons of money into Talbot County," council President Philip Carey Foster said. The size cap will apply to all areas of the county beyond the boundaries of incorporated cities and towns. A citizens group, the Talbot County Preservation Alliance, supported Measure B, to place a cap on building size. The group won the original size cap plan in a battle with the County Council, which ended up going to an Appeals Court. The Preservation Alliance won their court battle, and then influenced the election of new members to the County Council, which went on to pass the 65,000 s.f. cap. The voters of Talbot County have now endorsed that cap. When the County Council passed the original cap last winter, Lowe's began gathering signatures to put the matter to voters, obviously assuming that they could outspend local residents to win that vote. Lowe's went on to spend nearly $60,000 to attract No votes -- almost six times what the Preservation Alliance spent. One of the largest towns in the county, Easton, has voted to endorse Measure B, as a way of encouraging developers to forsake Talbot County and build instead, in Easton. The latter has had a see-saw relationship with big boxes. Easton originally passed a 65,000 s.f. cap ordinance of its own, but more recently relaxed it to allow big stores in certain parts of town.

What you can do: For other stories about communities which have enacted a size cap on buildings, search the Newsflash page by "caps."










 
 
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