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Annapolis Real Estate Law Blog

Board delays voting on Maryland casino project

After a July 14 public meeting, Prince George's County officials have decided to hold a vote on a $925 million casino and resort that would be located close to Washington D.C. The vote would have been held on the same day but was delayed until July 21 due to three of the council's members not being at the meeting.

The plan won support of voters in Maryland in 2012 and the support of the Prince George's county executive. However, those who are opposed to the development say that it would be too bright and would cause traffic issues in an area where traffic is already congested at times. It is said that the board's approval is the last major step that needs to take place before construction begins.

White Oak master plan in Maryland delayed

The Montgomery County Council voted to extend a deadline from July 17 to Sept. 15 to complete a master plan for White Oak. After the Sept. 15 deadline passes, there will be a blackout period related to land use issues starting on Nov. 1 until a new council takes over on Dec. 1. In addition to the master plan for White Oak, a sectional map amendment must also be created.

Although there are several weeks between the Sept. 15 deadline and the Nov. 1 blackout period, time must be allotted for public comments as well as to vote on and approve both the master plan and the sectional map amendment. Although some council members are annoyed that the approval process has taken so long, there are those who believe that there is enough time to complete the process. However, others say that the council is rushing a proposal through without proper traffic studies or a consideration for the long-term development of the area.

A push to bring back corner stores in Maryland

There is a movement in Remington to add a new zoning classification called "neighborhood commercial". This designation would allow property owners to turn residential properties into small corner stores or coffee shops that in theory would help to revive the community. In the 1940s, many neighborhoods had corner stores where residents could get a soda, buy groceries or simply chat with their neighbors.

However, a surge in crime combined with larger convenience stores with parking lots made the corner store a thing of the past. In the 1970s, zoning laws were rewritten, which caused any abandoned corner store to immediately revert back to residential property. However, new zoning laws would allow buildings that had been used as shops or stores in the past to be used for such a purpose once again.

Zoning issues blocks Renaissance festival's move

Fans of Renaissance fairs might be interested to know that the Maryland Renaissance Festival may not be moving to Lothian as hoped to accommodate its increasing attendance. A request was put in to move the event from Crownsville to Lothian where there would be around 100 more acres of space. Zoning approval for the festival was denied by a hearing officer of Anne Arundel County.

The location on which the festival had been taking place in Crownsville only gave participants 130 acres of land. The proposed location on a farm in Lothian offered 238 acres, but homeowners in the area said at a hearing that the event would be a burden on their community. The festival draws around 300,000 people each year. It recreates an English village during the time of King Henry VIII. The organizers still have a lease at the Crownsville location and plan to have the festival there in 2014. The festival is open on weekends from August 23 to October 19.

Huzzah, fair south Arundelers, Ren Fest willst not be in Lothian!

Success is sometimes not a blessing. The Maryland Renaissance Festival has become so popular over the past three decades that is has outgrown its site in Crownsville. Relocation, however, is a complicated process -- a complicated process that has just hit a major roadblock: Anne Arundel County's administrative hearing officer has denied the festival's request for a zoning exception that would have allowed it to move to what organizers thought would be a workable site.

If only residents near the site had shared that opinion. Residents and zoning officials have opposed the fair's move to rural Lothian in the southern part of the county. For the most part, their objections concern the increased traffic -- more vehicles and more people -- during the fair's run.

Hark, fair south Arundelers, Ren Fest knocketh at zoning's gate

"There is no present or future -- only the past happening over and over again -- now. You can't get away from it." Eugene O'Neill made this observation in his play, "A Moon for the Misbegotten." It struck us that residents of Lothian in southern Anne Arundel County may have been thinking the same thing this week as they fought to keep the past, as interpreted by the Maryland Renaissance Festival, out of their backyards.

The festival is the immensely popular event that bridges the last days of summer and the early days of fall. For decades, patrons have visited the fair in Crownsville, but the event has gotten too big for its current 17-acre site. A move is in the offing.

Chilies, like house guests, can be a real nuisance after a while p3

We are finishing up our discussion of the dispute between Sriracha sauce manufacturer Huy Fong Foods Inc. and its neighbors. When the dispute first made headlines, several states and cities invited the company to relocate from Irwindale, California, to their more hospitable environs. To the best of our knowledge, Maryland was not among the suitors, but Texas sent an entire delegation of state officials to meet with Huy Fong executives in May.

Sriracha is known for being the hottest condiment available, thanks to its unique combination of chilies and spices. And the company's story is inspiring: The founder, a Vietnamese immigrant, started making Sriracha and other chili sauces in a small warehouse more than 30 years ago. By 2012, according to Businessweek, Huy Fong was selling 20 million bottles a year, bringing in $60 million in sales.

Chilies, like house guests, can be a real nuisance after a while p2

Before we continue with the story of the Sriracha sauce manufacturer and its hometown, we should note that the parties have resolved their legal dispute. The company was on the verge of being declared a public nuisance by the Irwindale city council -- the plant is in California, not Maryland -- when the council voted to drop the matter. The reason is not quite clear, because the council met behind closed doors. For now, though, things are looking up for Sriracha lovers and, of course, the company.

The Huy Fong Foods Inc. factory is a relatively new addition to Irwindale. The plant was under construction for a couple of years, and when it finally started full production last year the neighbors learned just how hot that hot sauce is. 

Chilies, like house guests, can be a real nuisance after a while

If you were wondering why there is a rooster on the bottle of Sriracha sauce, wonder no more. David Tran, the man who introduced Sriracha to the American public, was born in the year of the rooster. Tran moved to Los Angeles in 1979 from his native Vietnam. By the end of 1980, he had opened the Sriracha manufacturing operation in a downtown warehouse.

As the product's popularity grew, so did Huy Fong Foods Inc. The company outgrew its original space and moved to a new facility. In 2010, the company announced it would move its headquarters and manufacturing facility to Irwindale, a city northeast of Los Angeles. From newspaper reports at the time, the excitement was palpable, even if the process was slow. Huy Fong had already built a good reputation for itself by solely using chilies from a Ventura County farm. 

Senior housing market on the upswing, prepping for boomers

While the developers of Crystal Spring in Annapolis are struggling to win the community's approval, senior housing developers in other parts of the country are having more luck. Nationwide, the supply of senior housing units has returned to levels not seen since late 2005, before the housing bust and the recession. Better yet, those units are not sitting empty: The 89.8 percent occupancy rate is the best the market has seen since 2008.

Rents are up, as well. And though new construction slowed in the first quarter of 2014, analysts are blaming winter weather rather than a loss of confidence or interest. After all, baby boomers are not getting any younger.