Two signs “Chesapeake Country” and “Scenic Byway” greet you as you begin to drive down the Oxford Road from Easton Parkway. Bikers, joggers, runners, and pedestrians, both local and tourist, frequently travel the designed bike lanes. Then you cross over Papermill Pond, a tranquil scene where you often see people fishing. Next, on the left is Polly’s Hill, a small, 12 unit residential community built around 1996, well set off and barely visible from the Oxford Road.
Next on the right is The Easton Club, a 283,873 acre parcel developed in 1995 as “a distinctive waterfront and golf course community of single family home sites and townhomes”. 180 acres were developed as the golf course and the remainder as a 342 unit residential golf course community with private roadways. The golf course is now defunct because the current owners, who purchased it in 2016, would not restore the golf course and club. At present most of the roadside view of The Easton Club is open space with most of the residential development screened by woods.
Directly across from The Easton Club is Poplar Hill Farm, a 120 acre unimproved farm parcel. Deer from the adjoining wooded parcel can often be seen grazing there as can a flock of permanent resident Canadian geese who waddle back and forth across the Oxford Road to that parcel from The Easton Club golf course. As mentioned, there is a wooded parcel next on the left. That parcel is under contract to a conservancy which intends to preserve the woods and to offer walks “Into the Woods”. The fate of both Poplar Hill Farm and The Easton Club are Grimm fairy tales. The development plans for those two parcels, which portend the demise of the desirable Oxford Corridor, were on the Agenda of the Easton Staff Development Review committee on July 27.
The Application for Poplar Hill Farm proposes a 439 unit development of single family homes, villa townhomes, and “market rate multifamily housing” rentals, together with four community parks for public sports, which parks border the Oxford Road.
As well, a retail strip mall and offices are planned. This when retail shopping (seven shopping centers!) is but a 3 minute drive, with Waterside Village having abundant, vacant office space. Also, a fire substation is proposed. Part of the property is located within critical areas and will require the developer to be awarded a growth allocation by the County Council.
The Application for The Easton Club golf course property proposes a “Food and Wellness Destination Park”, built in three phases: “a culmination of food and wellness delivered upon a hospitality platform incorporating elements of Agri-Tourism and aspects of Agriculture planned to promote the agriculture, food and wellness industries.” What is proposed is essentially a hotel resort, in the heart of a residential community, with 173,847 square feet of new construction proposed (not including the expansion of the existing pavilion and “clubhouse” which are also proposed) mostly within the critical area boundary, including a multipurpose building with underground parking, and an Agriculture Center #1 abutting homes in Woodland Farms. Agriculture Center #2 is proposed to be constructed on the corner of the Oxford Road and Waverly Road (the only proposed building not within the critical areas boundary). fourth phase proposes 60 residential “villas”.
Each of the aforementioned developers, like Hansel and Gretel, spread some bread crumbs, like promising walking trails for the public, peddling Agri-tourism, or donating community parks to the Town of Easton, in order to sell their monstrous development projects to our local governments. The cost of the infrastructure for these developments, which Talbot County taxpayers will have to pay for to support these projects: roads (will a two lane Oxford Road really handle the real vehicular traffic which will ensue? And the inevitable traffic congestion?), schools (Easton schools are at capacity – where will children living at Poplar Hill be able to attend school?), and health care (which is also at capacity), are not addressed. It is already established that “Impact Fees” do not cover such costs.
Sensible growth has preserved the desirable Oxford Corridor. The insensible growth proposed by these developers will be its demise.
Lynn Leonhardt Mielke
Talbot County Council Candidate (R) 2022
Addendum: The “Active Under Contract” sign at the “wooded parcel” was removed today (August 1). The listing for that 198 acre parcel, zoned R10A (residential), has reverted to “Active”.