Artist’s rendering of proposed Hollywood Commercial Center

Leonardtown, MD — The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission, on a 5-2 vote, has denied a concept site plan for the proposed Hollywood Commercial Center across from the firehouse on Route 235. In making the motion to deny, Vice Chairman Shelby Guazzo cited concerns about the proposed entrance to the development off Sotterley Road and the need to protect Route 235 for the base.

The decision at the March 28 commission meeting came after the developer’s representatives presented video simulations of what traffic would look like at peak traffic from 4:45 to 5 p.m. after the development was completed. It also showed what traffic would look like in 2020 without the development. The developer contended the level of service would still be acceptable with their development that was to include a CVS Pharmacy, convenience store and gas station, and other shops.

But even after looking at the simulation Planning Commission Chairman Howard Thompson, who lives in the neighborhood, said he didn’t believe what he was seeing accurately replicated what he sees every day traveling the roads.

The developer proposed to increase from two to five lanes the 600-foot stretch of Sotterley Road between Route 235 (Three Notch Road) and Old Three Notch Road. Those lanes would include turn lanes into the shopping center and a left turn lane onto Route 235.

There was a lot of discussion about the state changing the current pattern of having turning traffic and through traffic proceed at the same time. If the development had been approved their engineering representative said they would urge the state to have separate cycles for turning and through traffic.

The proposal before the planning commission only included 14 acres of the existing 22 acres now owned by the Dean Partnership, LLP. The remaining eight acres would be sold off by the contract purchaser at settlement, according to Terry McFadden representing the developer. The planning commission had been told at a previous meeting that if is believed Winegardner Chevrolet would be moving onto the eight acres in a separate proposal that would have to come before the planning commission.

The developer’s engineers told the planners that even with the development of the extra eight acres the level of service at the Route 235 and Route 245/Sotterley Road intersection would be at acceptable state standards.

The March 28 meeting at one point was opened by Chairman Thompson to additional public testimony in addition to that received at two previous hearings. But only three people spoke, all of whom expressed concern about Sotterley Road.

Keith Dobson, a new resident in Hollywood with a young family, told the commission, “Having that entrance (on Sotterley Road) at that particular spot seems ridiculous.” He added, “I would; like to call your bluff” on the assertion by the developer that the proposed businesses required that entrance. “I don’t think those businesses are going anywhere if they don’t have that entrance.”

Guazzo noted that the maximum development allowed on the property with its Town Center Zoning could be 1,600 residential units or two-million square feet of commercial development and she just didn’t see how Sotterley Road could accommodate that level of development. She also concluded it could not handle the smaller development proposed before her for the property.

The decision caught the developer’s representatives off guard and one asked what they had done wrong, that they had done what they were asked and that the project had received the stamp of approval from the Department of Land Use and Growth Management. But County Attorney George Sparling stepped to the microphone and informed everyone in the meeting room that the planners had made their decision and there was nothing else to be said.

Thompson informed them that they could revise their plan and resubmit if they choose.

Contact Dkck Myers at