“Holy Sheetz!”: Tony and the county talk about the future of Nautilus Diner site, Route 3.

Tony and his family, who own the Nautilus Diner at 1709 Transportation Drive in Crofton said Friday, January 15, that nothing was finalized yet, but that they hope to sell their property, because Tony is getting older and the offer they got was generous. A proposal has been submitted to Anne Arundel County to build a Sheetz gas station and convenience store on the same location as the current Nautilus Diner. “If the price is right we want to sell, “ the owner said (who declined to confirm his last name) “It’s getting time to throw in the towel. I’m getting towards 70 now.” City-Data.com listed the property’s lot assessed value at $861,00, but previously valued at $1.2 million in 2010. The website indicated the total building value was $2.3 million in 2014. Tony indicated, if the proposal did proceed, it would be both a happy and sad event for him and his family. The Nautilus Diner opened in Crofton fifteen years ago. “I love it,” Tony said with a laugh. “I don’t cook. I’m too old for that. I just do the fighting and arguing.” Their company also owns diners in Timonium, Maryland, and two in New York State, Tony indicated. But he reiterated the future of the Crofton diner is not certain yet. “We don’t know if this is going to go through or not yet,” he said. “There’s along time to go.” The county confirmed it was early in the proposal process and the redevelopment remained under review. James Kitchin, the county’s director of community engagement, said mitigating congestion on the Route 3 corridor was a high priority for the county, but that they had less initial concern with this proposal for two reasons. For one, the proposed Sheetz would only use the existing entrances and exits to Route 3 when constructed. Also, a redevelopment of the site would require new owners to build to upgraded stormwater specifications, which would help the local environment. “Our commitment to this is we’re going to enforce the law,” he said. “While we’re encouraged it’s redevelopment, we’d be very concerned if a traffic impact study says that more cars are going to be put on Route 3 right there.” The county’s viewpoint falls in line with the County Executive Steuart Pittman’s approach of encouraging redevelopment more than new development throughout Anne Arundel County, in hopes of protecting the environment to maintain and improve the quality of life for county residents. The county has taken substantial steps toward eventually mitigating Route 3 congestion. It has earmarked $23 million towards adding third lanes between St. Stephens Church Road and routes 97/32 access, where bottlenecks often occur. “I think that would be a game changer,” Kitchin said. “We’re close to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state. We’re hopeful in the next few months we’ll have an official agreement signed.” Kitchin said if successful the process for adding third lanes would carry on through 2024, though nothing is certain at this point. First, design would have to be completed. Then the purchase of private right-of-ways would have to take place. And then construction could take place. The county learned that it did not have the legal right to enforce any development moratorium along Route 3. But, Kitchin said, there is a possibility that status could change if the lane addition project went through, and legal conditions were changed because of it. The county also wants to look at other ways to mitigate the congestion, such as studying intersections further. “We’re constantly looking at ways to protect Route 3 from development that would add more traffic,” Kitchin said. “We’re going to enforce the county code as much as we can.” The county invited public input on development projects through the Office of Community Engagement and Constituent Service at phone number 410-222-1785 and email at their website. The county’s office of planning and zoning also invites comments through email at pz-comments@aacounty.org