Formal Review of Poplar Hill Development Proposal Begins
Owen Bailey – Director of Land Use and Policy
For several years, a proposed development near the intersection of the Easton Parkway and the Oxford Road in Talbot County has been on the public’s radar. The farm, often referred to as Poplar Hill, is specifically prioritized for growth in Easton’s comprehensive plan. The earliest phases of review got started in November with the Town of Easton Planning Commission meeting on 11/17/22, and the Town of Easton Parks Advisory Board Meeting 11/28/12.
Preliminary site plans for the Poplar Hill development currently include 456 residential units (a mix of single-family homes, town homes, and apartment buildings), areas designated for commercial use, a satellite fire department building, publicly-owned recreational fields, and walking trails. As the project moves forward through a still-lengthy review and approval process, ESLC has some ideas for how this development might be improved.
Poplar Hill is on the west side of the Easton Parkway, meaning residents will have no choice but to cross the parkway on Oxford/Peachblossom Road every time they access the amenities and services of downtown Easton. This already-busy intersection is currently listed in Phase One of Easton’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Action Plan as being in need of pedestrian access improvements. Given its close proximity to the Easton YMCA, Easton Middle School, Idlewild Park, and downtown Easton, ESLC believes improving the intersection for pedestrian and bicycle safety should be a high priority for consideration as Poplar Hill development moves forward.
Easton has an exciting, visionary plan for trails and community connectivity. Development proposals give the town the opportunity to implement this vision, by requiring developers to help fund trail system improvements and trail infrastructure. Improving the safety of pedestrian crossing of the Oxford Road/Easton Parkway intersection as part of the Poplar Hill development will open the door to a whole new level of bicycle and pedestrian access to downtown Easton and dramatically improve quality of life.
Habitat and Passive Recreation
A substantial portion of the proposed development, 25 acres, is planned as a publicly-owned three-ballfield sports complex including necessary parking – all within the Critical Area. ESLC strongly supports a different vision for this area of the site plan. At the Easton Parks Advisory Board Meeting, ESLC gave public comment urging changes in the site plan to replace the ballfields and parking with a native pollinator meadow with walking trails. Given the development’s close proximity to the upper branches of the Tred Avon, ESLC believes habitat restoration will better protect the river’s water quality and is more appropriate for the site.
With a long way yet to go on Poplar Hill, which is just one of several Easton developments currently under consideration by the town, please stay tuned to ESLC for more information in the months ahead.