Current location of Lexington Park Ford on Great Mills Road

Leonardtown, MD — The final hurdle has been cleared for the relocation of Lexington Park Ford from Great Mills Road to Three Notch Road (Route 235) next to San Souci Plaza. The St. Mary’s County Board of Appeals June 11 unanimously agreed to grant the front and rear yard variances requested by the dealership owner Kody Holdings, LLC.

The company was asking for a reduction in the front-yard buffer along Three Notch Road from 65 feet to 30 feet and a reduction of the rear buffer along the proposed FDR Boulevard from 65 feet to 50 feet.

Department of Land Use and Growth Management staff had recommended against granting the variances. A report presented to the board by Zoning Administrator Yvonne Chaillet said, “According to the information made available to staff, staff believes that the applicant has not demonstrated that the property is unique based on its physical characteristics and therefore the applicant has not demonstrated that the application of the buffer standards to any uniqueness would create a practical difficulty.”

Chaillet pointed out that there had been no widening of Route 235 or change in stormwater management regulations since the 21-acre property was purchased in 2013. The report concluded: “Investors, contractors, and land developers all understand that an investment in commercial property means that they will be working within the parameters of all applicable federal, state and county regulations in order to improve their properties.”

During the two-hour hearing developers’ representative, consulting engineer Jim Gotsch of Soltesz, argued that all of the properties along that stretch of road had no more than 30 feet of buffer and so what they were proposing was in keeping with character with the neighborhood. He also said the property had a unique pie-shaped configuration which limited depth.

Gotsch and dealership owner Tim Kody also explained that 60 percent of their business was generated by people passing by the dealerships, so visibility was important.

In addition to the reduction in the width of the buffer, Kody also requested a less dense planting schedule within the buffer. But, they were informed by County Attorney George Sparling that the planning commission’s contingent approval of the project required a more-dense planting scheme.

Director of Land Use and Growth Management Phil Shire told the board that he had the authority to work with the developer so that a berm or a fence would not be necessary, which could possibly restrict the view of the facility by passing motorists. They will, however, have to conform to the more-dense planting scenario.

During the hearing Chairman George Allan Hayden, Sr. at times seemed to be siding with the staff report and against the applicant’s proposal. But in the end he went along with the rest of the board in allowing both variances from the buffer yard requirements.

Lexington Park Ford is owned by Kody Holdings, LLC, headquartered in Waldorf. It operates nine auto franchises in four brands and has locations in Leonardtown, Prince Frederick, Waldorf and Upper Marlboro.

A Ford dealership, called Eskridge Ford, was established on Great Mills Road in 1953 and was purchased by brothers Lewie Aldridge, Sr. and Paul Aldridge, Sr. in 1961. It remained Aldridge Ford until it was sold by the family in 2007.

See the original story from The Bay Net on the planning commission approval of the project:

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