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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.

Fair officials have identified an alternative site: 30 acres on Upper Pindell Road in Lothian, just off Route 4. When Lothian residents learned about their potential seasonal neighbor -- the fair runs 19 weekend days a year, from late August to the end of October -- the villagers did not rejoice.

As is true of many development disputes, the issue here is increased traffic, to the tune of about 5,000 cars and 15,000 people a day for the run of the event. The rush of fairgoers more than doubles the town's population on those days.

The move depends on the county. The Renaissance Fair must obtain exceptions to the county zoning code first, and winning those exceptions could prove difficult. In fact, the county's Planning and Zoning Office has already decided against the proposal.

We will explain why and talk about other hurdles for the event in our next post.

Sources: 

Capital Gazette, "Zoning office gives thumbs down to Renaissance Festival move," E.B. Furgurson III, June 11, 2014

BestPlaces.net, "Cost of Living, Best Place to Live in Lothian (zip 20711), Maryland," accessed online June 13, 2014

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