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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them.

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Chesterfield still lacks development partner

For the last few months, ESLC has worked to advance community conversation around the eventual development of Chesterfield (Carter Farm), in Centreville, Maryland. We see Chesterfield as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Centreville to redesign its own front porch on the beautiful Corsica River, and we are deeply grateful to the communities and leadership of Centreville for partnering with ESLC to reimagine this gem.

Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute

Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute

We held formal and informal meetings with Centreville residents and town representatives allowing a transparent and public process that established guiding considerations for development. Coupled with community input, we consulted with planning and design industry professionals to generate innovative ideas and refine development parameters. Based on input, we carved out the following design considerations: (1) Access for public open space and recreation, including integration into the town trail system, (2) Preservation of the Carter farmhouse, (3) Agricultural components, including robust community gardens and other scalable uses, (4) Commercial such as a destination inn, market and/or farm to table restaurant, and (5) Housing – a mix of types, sizes and price points.

The resulting vision celebrates a mix of commercial, residential, and abundant community uses. Our vision leverages off public access connections, includes the Carter Farmhouse and a new destination farm to table inn as amenities which would further connect communities to the land, and which retains the farm’s agricultural heritage though community gardens. The vision integrates with the trail system around Town, opens access to the Corsica River, and invites Town residents and visitors onto the property as a hub of commercial and community activities with a balance of housing to add to a core of downtown energy.

In order for ESLC to further advance the conversation, and refine the use vision, we need to identify a financial or development partner. With our contract having ended at 5pm on Wednesday, September 21st, we have been unsuccessful in recruiting a development or financial partner. Also without success, we approached the current owner with a proposal for a partnership that would push the development towards the community vision with ESLC fundraising to offset costs of added community amenities.

When Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute spoke at our community meeting held at the Wye River Upper School, his resounding message was, “There’s only two kinds of change in the world we live in: there’s planned change and unplanned change. You can grow by choice, or you can grow by chance. You can accept what you’re given, or you can create what you want.” Centreville has to decide whether they will grow by chance, or by choice; whether they will accept what they are given, or create what they want. We want to be part of the latter, a development that demands innovation, rooted in community value. Chesterfield represents a unique opportunity to set the bar for model development in the region, to differentiate this community from others in a meaningful way. The outpouring of support and ideas from the community was inspiring to ESLC and yielded a vision rooted in community, which prioritizes public access to the land and water. And while turning that vision into reality at Chesterfield is elusive today, Centreville can still grow by choice on this farm and others.

While our contract will lapse, ESLC remains committed to Centreville. Our priority is to support the outcomes of the community conversation and determine how they may be applied to the property now or be set in place for when the property is developed in the future. The conceptual visual will be shared with the town and public, including a narrative outlining our process, lessons learned, and recommendations. We look forward to working with leadership and the community of Centreville to get the very best result for Chesterfield – one that is innovative and rooted in the heritage of the site and the values of the community.

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