Eastern Shore Land Conservancy


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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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ESLC Identifies Next Steps for Chestertown Gateway Property

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) a private, nonprofit land conservation organization has announced its contract on the Hopewell and Peterson Farms, nearly 500 acres in Northern Chestertown, has expired. ESLC entered into the contract last year and later announced a formal partnership with Kent County and the town of Chestertown on the Chestertown Gateway Master Planning Project, to create a community visioning process for the property. The partnership was prompted after a developer’s request in 2006 to annex the property for development of over 1,500 units. A series of public meetings were held last November, resulting in an active community dialogue that led to the development of a master plan that is now in the hands of the county and town planning commissions.

“While we are disappointed that market conditions aren’t right for this project to move forward right now, we are confident that the many outstanding ideas from the community will one day become a reality, said Rob Etgen, ESLC’s Executive Director.  “It has been an inspiration to work with the Clark family and officials from Chestertown and Kent County on this unique collaboration.”

Chestertown’s Mayor Margo Bailey was pleased with both the community visioning project and the unprecedented alliance of the County, Town and ESLC. 

“The pressures of growth on the Eastern Shore in general and in our town specifically are a call to arms for a way of life that will disappear without a concerted effort to balance preservation with moderate, planned growth.,” said Bailey. “The visioning with these partners forged a new path for the Town and showed the willingness of the county and the private sector to help us.  All annexations considered by town should follow this same model, and require a consensus sub area master plan be developed before any irrevocable steps are made – it is worth the effort and expense”. 

Looking forward, ESLC will continue to advocate for a continuation of the public process and an amendment to the town comprehensive plan that memorializes general concepts of consensus for the Clark Farm Master Plan to guide future use of the site.

“The best planning decisions for the Clark and surrounding properties will be made only if a number of key pieces are in place including the sewer/water study, the transportation study, and the overarching community vision for the needs and wishes of the town,” said Amy Owsley, ESLC’s Director of Land Use Planning. “It is so important that the town and county have the time they need to sort through these issues to create a comprehensive perspective from which to make annexation and related land use decisions.”

ESLC’s new land use planning circuit rider, slated to be on board later this summer, will soon be working with Chestertown and our other small towns to share a toolbox of educational materials on municipal growth-related issues including how lessons learned from this project can be applied throughout the region.

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