Last month the small community of Easton, MD, the Town Council voted to impose a 3 month moratorium on the processing of big box retail applications. Easton, which says that it is ranked the 8th. Best Small Town in America, wants to preserve that ‘best town’ image before it gets covered over in asphalt and concrete. Faced with large scale developments totalling 766,000 square feet of shopping space, the Town Council reacted accordingly. The 3 month moratorium will last until January 20, 2000. During that time, the Planning and Zoning Board has been instructed not to accept, review or continue to review any applications for big box developers. The Town is also now investigating whether or not it should amend its Comprehensive Plan to address issues raised by big box retail. Concerned about the status of Easton as a bedroom community for Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., public officials have asked town staff to prepare recommendations for the Consideration of the Town Council.
Moratoriums are a time-limited mechanism that communities can use to step back and deal with many of what Easton planning staff call the “quality of life” issues facing the community. Many communities have adopted 3,6 or 1 year moratoriums. For further background information on the Easton decision, and the staff papers that address many of the common concerns about big retail projects, such as traffic, crime, etc. go to http://town.eastonmd.com/Moratorium.htm