Dairy Queen site plan postponed in Leonardtown; assisted living center recommended – SoMdNews.com

The only self-serve car wash in Leonardtown may be going away if a Dairy Queen is ultimately approved. 

However, that is questionable after concerns were raised about its impact on traffic on the busy intersection at Route 5 and Washington Street. 

The Leonardtown Planning Commission postponed its recommendation for a concept site plan for the project during a Dec. 20 meeting due to lack of responses from the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department.

Town staff worked with the applicant, Burch Oil Co., Town Administrator Laschelle McKay said. She noted that the town can’t deny a restaurant solely because they don’t like it, but added that it could deny it based on traffic concerns or ordinance regulations.

She noted the building, which would replace a car wash behind a Shell gas station at the entrance to the downtown area, doesn’t provide enough parking spaces per ordinance. However, based on traffic at another Dairy Queen in Charlotte Hall, the plan was adjusted to convert some parking spaces to drive-thru spaces.

McKay said that 73% of the business at the applicant’s other Dairy Queen is from drive-thru, with 18% sit-down and 8% carryout.

Based on ordinance, 53 parking spaces are required, but the applicant is proposing 42, plus 18 “stacking spaces” for drive-thru, instead of five. 

Proposed is a 2,662-square-foot building at 22875 Washington St.

Local land surveyor Wayne Hunt said that Lawrence Avenue to the north is another access. “It’s not a perfect situation, but it still operates at an acceptable level of service,” he said of the plan. 

Planning commissioner Doug Isleib asked why the applicant doesn’t use additional space on the “back part” of the site for more parking. Hunt replied that “it’s a little too removed” from where the building would be located. That space is reserved for future development, he said.

McKay noted that the additional space in question is zoned commercial office, as opposed to the rest of the 1.27 acres that is zoned commercial.  

Board chair Laura Schultz wondered if traffic would “fill up and back up regularly like Dunkin’ Donuts,” which is located close by south of the car wash. 

Town planning assistant Jada Stuckert said plans were sent to the state highway administration and the local fire department for comment on Oct. 23. “We should hear very soon,” she said.

Although it wasn’t a public hearing, the commission heard from Maria Perrygo, who said she owns Do Dah Deli, which is near the car wash behind Dunkin’ Donuts, and lives on Lawrence Avenue.

“Half of my customers can’t get to me on a good day,” she said. “Traffic is going to bog down our rescue squad and fire department.” She added that “Dunkin’ Donuts were never properly put in.”

“Architecture is really important,” Doug Isleib said. He added that he didn’t want it looking like “just a fast food Great Mills restaurant.”

Board member Andrew Ponti motioned that the commission postpone the concept site plan until comments are received from the state highway administration and local fire department. It passed 3-0.

It could be heard again at the commission’s next meeting at 4 p.m. Jan. 18, a day later than normal due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Assisted living center gets nod

In other business, the commission unanimously recommended concept site plan approval for a 31,995-square-foot assisted living and memory care facility at 42156 St. Andrew’s Church Road near Route 5.

Two dilapidated houses, a building and a barn would be demolished to make room for the facility, which would be built on 21 acres. Some 14.3 acres of the site would remain forested with another 5.5 left as a conservation easement, Stuckert said, noting the property was annexed into the town on March 26. 

The plan calls for 32 units. The facility would employ 15 staffers and provide 27 parking spaces, she said.

The applicant is St. Mary’s Assisted Living, McKay said in an email. 

The commission separately unanimously recommended approval for a special use exception for the assisted living facility. That would need approval from the town’s board of appeals, Stuckert said. 

Odds and ends

The commission also unanimously recommended approval of a concept site plan for six single-family homes in the Academy Hills subdivision. The site — which was previously planned to be used as a medical building, a St. Mary’s County Advanced Life Support building and a Dollar General — would be accessed by Cedar Lane Road, Stuckert said. The applicants for the proposed Dogwood Development are Amanda and Quintin Wood.

If ultimately approved by the town council, the plan would result in a change to a planned unit development, she said.

Stuckert noted that the town issued a stop work order to the new owner of the Maryland Antique Center when town officials found out that he was performing work inside the building without a permit or approval by the fire marshal.

“There was quite a bit of work done” at the site at 26005 Point Lookout Road, which is located southeast of McIntosh Run and Port of Leonardtown Winery, Stuckert said.

“He knows he needs an architectural rendering,” she added.

McKay noted that a public presentation of the town’s waterfront plan is planned for February that would include the Leonardtown Wharf and area around Tudor Hall.