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Worcester County nixes rec storage buildings on ag land

A text amendment permitting recreational storage buildings on Worcester County’s agricultural land failed to pass at the County Commissioners’ June 18 meeting.

Worcester County sign

Worcester County sign
File photo

By Tara Fischer, Staff Writer

A text amendment permitting recreational storage buildings on Worcester County’s agricultural land failed to pass at the Tuesday, June 18 County Commissioners meeting. 

The Worcester County Planning Commission reviewed the text amendment on April 4, where it received a favorable recommendation. Applicant Johnathan Anders and co-owner Jeff Mahan were present for the meeting. During the discussion outlined in the agenda packet for the June 18 hearing, Anders explained that he and two friends purchased a 30-acre agricultural parcel on Worcester Highway, intending to build a storage space for their classic cars and boats. 

As the structure was being built, the men were informed that the current code limits buildings like theirs to 500 square feet unless there is a principal dwelling on site, which their land lacked. He and the co-owners applied for the text amendment to avoid constructing what they believed to be an unnecessary structure. 

Worcester County’s A-1 agricultural district currently restricts the stashing of non-farming equipment in buildings like the ones that Anders and his partners constructed. 

“We are trying to use the building that we have built there for personal storage of classic cars and things like that that we have in there and not have to put a primary residence on the property,” Mahan said at the June 18 hearing. 

If passed, the proposal would have allowed any size of private, noncommercial buildings to be used for personal storage without a principal structure in A-1 parcels larger than 20 acres with special approval by the Worcester County Board of Zoning Appeals. 

A graphic included in the agenda packet shows that the proposed amendment would impact 1,716 parcels greater than 20 acres in the A-1 district. 

“I don’t want to open this up for a free-for-all all, but their only option at this point to create compliance if they don’t put agricultural equipment in there is to put in…a house, against their wishes just to fill a void,” Commissioner Eric Fiori said at the June 18 meeting. “… f there is nothing stored outside the dwelling, what is inside of it, if it is for personal use, I just don’t see where that is any more invasive than farm equipment … I just think that this owner is trying to become compliant and was unaware of the agricultural restriction when this was done.” 

Anders noted on April 4 that if the amendment fails to pass, he intends to place a double-wide on the farm to act as the primary residence so that the recreational storage facility would align with the current code. 

Fiori motioned to approve the text amendment to allow personal storage in Worcester County’s agricultural district on at least 20 acres of parcels. The motion failed to pass for lack of a second. 

This story appears in the July 4, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.