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Does Calvert County Support Its Local Businesses?

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

One of the goals of Keep Calvert Country is to support and promote local businesses in any way we can. The purpose of this blog is to alert local businesses that on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 the Planning Commission will review proposed amendments regarding Architectural Review regulations which, among other proposals, will EXEMPT ALL CHAIN STORES & RESTAURANTS from having to even file for Architectural Review, let alone spend time and money to comply with appearance standards! So much for supporting local businesses!

View the proposal here: NOTE: This meeting is not a public hearing and public comments may not be allowed. A public hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Up until recently, Architectural Review has been an important process that has been responsible for creating good-looking Town Centers, each unique from one another. As each town center plan was being prepared, the number one citizen issue was Architectural Review and appearance standards that would prevent Calvert from becoming another Waldorf. They didn’t want towns that lack a local architectural style and are indistinguishable from any other place with a plethora of chain branded stores. Bottom line, if we want to attract customers and tourists, we need attractive towns. Now the Commissioners are putting that entire burden on local businesses.

Most local businesses have been through the Architectural Review process when opening or expanding their businesses, and most would agree it is not always an easy process. It can be costly in time and money to have plans drawn up to demonstrate compliance with the regs. However, the collective effort to create vibrant, attractive towns does matter and chains should not be exempted.

In proposing to exempt “chains”, the County Attorney developed the following “definition”:

“Often described as formula businesses, chain stores range in size from a coffee shop to large retail stores, but all have a clearly identifiable brand and standardized appearance no matter where they are located. Some chains are national, some are regional in nature, and some are owned as franchises or cooperatives. It is the intent of the Calvert County Town Center Architectural Review provisions and Administrative Procedures that the selection of the brand's standardized architecture be that most complementary to the environs in Calvert County where the structure(s) will be located with adjustments to that branding necessary to complement the county location that does not have a negative effect upon that branding.”

KCC’s Questions:

  1. What is the purpose of exempting chains? To make it easier for them to come into Calvert County? Won’t that have a negative impact on local businesses and make it even harder for them to compete?

  2. Local businesses put a lot of effort into creating and marketing their “brand”. But does that qualify them as a “chain” if they only have one location?

  3. The definition only mentions chain stores. Will it apply to chain restaurants as well?

  1. The definition is extremely subjective. Who is to decide whether a national chain’s appearance is “most complementary to the environs in Calvert County” and what appearance standards will be used? What happens if they’re not?

Your Options:

Here are your options if any of this concerns you:

  1. Attend the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, February 20, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Harriet E. Brown Community Center - 901 Dares Beach Road, Prince Frederick (old SMECO building) to learn more.

  2. Citizens may not be given the opportunity to speak at the meeting (it is not a public hearing), but you can send emails to the Dept. of Planning & Zoning and ask that they be forwarded to the Planning Commission. Email:

  3. Contact your County Commissioners and voice your concerns. The Commissioners’ office phone # is (410) 535-2160. Or email all Commissioners at:

  4. Follow Keep Calvert Country at or on Facebook for updates.

  5. SHARE this information with other local businesses!

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