Hearing set for Thursday on Renaissance Fest zoning request for new site

The Maryland Renaissance Festival is seeking a zoning approval to move to a new property in southern Anne Arundel County.

The festival and property owner Michael Booth will appear before a county hearing officer on Thursday to make the case for a variance to allow the festival to be located on Upper Pindell Road in Lothian, which is designated as a scenic and historic road and lacks required direct main road access.

They also are seeking a special zoning exception, which is required for renaissance festivals, and are also seeking .

They also want approval to run the festival for 23 days each fall, up from the current 19 days.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival has been located in Crownsville since 1985, attracting 300,000 visitors each fall who want to experience the replica of a small village under the reign of Henry VIII. But the popular festival cannot expand further on its 130-acre Crownsville property.

Booth’s farm in Lothian, which would be leased by the festival, is 238 acres. In a letter to county officials on behalf of the festival, Timothy J. Martin of Bay Engineering said the Lothian site will not have the same traffic problems seen at the Crownsville site.

“It is in many ways [it is] a victim of its own success, and the only real complaint that is ever received about the festival’s operations is by its patrons to have better access to and from the festival,” Martin wrote.

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert St. in Annapolis.

The 2014 Maryland Renaissance Festival is scheduled to open Aug. 23 at the Crownsville site.

—Pamela Wood