Royal Farms seeks approval for downtown Annapolis location

Royal Farms kept its proposal for a downtown Annapolis store alive following a hearing before the city's Board of Appeals Tuesday night.

Royal Farms had applied for a special zoning exception to allow a deli in the former home of Stevens Hardware at 142 Dock St., but city planners declined to forward the application to the appeals board.

In a letter sent to the company last month, Acting Planning Director Sally Nash said the proposed Royal Farms is a convenience store — which is not allowed in the historic district — rather than a deli, which is allowed with a special zoning exception.

Royal Farms appealed that decision, but at Tuesday's hearing, Nash and her staff said the refusal to move the application forward was because the store's application was incomplete.

Planners wanted Royal Farms to provide sales data for other stores that have a similar layout as the proposed store in Annapolis, including stores in downtown Baltimore and in College Park.

Royal Farms refused because it was proprietary information that was not relevant, said Alan J. Hyatt, an Annapolis-based attorney representing the company.

The Board of Appeals brokered an agreement on Tuesday that Royal Farms would provide percentages of sales in different categories — but not dollar amounts — to city planners.

"If that's what it takes, then we will give you those percentages," Hyatt said.

Nash said if her office receives the information, it will move the special exception request forward, though her staff might not recommend approval for the special exception.

The merits of whether the Royal Farms is a deli and whether it's appropriate for City Dock could be discussed at a future hearing.

The Stevens family operated a hardware store in the circa 1880 building for more than 50 years before closing in December 2012. The family still owns the building, which is assessed for tax purposes at $1.42 million.

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