Hearings scheduled in appeal of Maryland Renaissance Festival's bid to relocate

As the Maryland Renaissance Festival prepares to open for its 2014 season on Saturday in Crownsville, hearings are looming on the festival's proposal for a future move to Lothian.

The festival is seeking zoning approval to move to a farm in Lothian. Anne Arundel County's administrative hearing officer denied the festival the zoning approvals it needed.

The festival appealed to the county's Board of Appeals, which has scheduled six nights of hearings for the case.

The first hearing will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the Arundel Center in Annapolis. Further hearings are scheduled for the evenings of Sept. 10, Oct. 1, Oct. 7, Oct. 8 and Oct. 9.

The Board of Appeals will decide if the festival should be allowed to open at 937 Upper Pindell Road in Lothian despite being located on a scenic and historic road, and not having direct access to a major road, called an arterial road — both are requirements for renaissance festivals.

Administrative Hearing Officer Douglas Clark Hollmann wrote in his decision in June that granting variances to key requirements would "effectively disembowel" the rules that govern where such festivals can be located.

Dozens of nearby homeowners and other south county residents testified at a hearing before Hollmann that the renaissance festival would generate noise and traffic that would burden their quiet, rural community.

As the process continues, the Maryland Renaissance Festival continues to have a long-term lease at Crownsville.

The 2014 festival season opens Saturday and runs on weekends through Oct. 19. For more details, go to the festival website.

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