Dunkirk Maryland
Prince Frederick, MD – Calling his proposal to open a car dealership in Calvert “a family dream,” Joe Barker of Owings faced the county’s Board of Appeals Thursday, Jan. 5 to give an overview of his plan. Barker was before the panel seeking a special exception to operate a small-scale motor vehicle dealership on Penwick Lane in Dunkirk.

Despite opposition voiced by a representative of a local citizens’ group, Barker’s request was unanimously approved. Leonard Nale, who spoke on behalf of the Dunkirk Area Concerned Citizens Association (DACCA), stated his organization is opposed to all car dealerships in the Dunkirk Town Center.

Barker explained to the board that he currently owns and operates a small used car dealership in Deale. “Cars have always been a passion of mine,” he stated. The proposed dealership, which will display no more than 10 vehicles at a time, will not be visible from Route 4. “You will barely even know I’m there,” said Barker. “My plan is to keep this small.”

In answer to a question from board chairman D.O. Baker, Barker explained that any maintenance or repair that needs to be done to a vehicle before or after a transaction will be done at a different location.

Barker plans to use a portion of a currently vacant building adjacent to the lot where the dealership will be located. While the buildings are fairly rustic in appearance, the vicinity is not considered an historic district.

In speaking on behalf of DACCA, Nale noted that the association’s 300 members along with members of several local homeowners’ associations were polled regarding Barker’s proposed venture and an overwhelming majority voted opposed. The citizens, said Nale oppose the dealership because it “would open the door” for similar businesses. “Dunkirk is a small town,” Nale noted.

Board of Appeals Member John Ward stated the Dunkirk Town Center Master Plan does allow for vehicle dealerships. “A town center is where things are supposed to happen,” said Ward.

“It’s bringing empty space back into use,” Baker added. The building where Barker’s office will be located has been vacant for four years.

Nale stated that another concern DACCA had was the lack of enforcement to make sure Barker is compliant with the submitted plan to keep the dealership small. However, Board of Appeals Administrator Roxana Whitt said that was not the case and that if the Department of Community Planning and Building were to receive a complaint of a special exception violation a zoning officer would conduct an investigation.

In his application Barker stated the hours of operation for his business, Southern Maryland Auto Sales LLC, would be Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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