For the last several months, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) has worked to advance community conversation around the eventual development of Chesterfield (Carter Farm), in Centreville, Maryland. ESLC views Chesterfield as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Centreville to redesign its own front porch on the beautiful Corsica River.
ESLC held formal and informal meetings with Centreville residents and town representatives, allowing a transparent and public process that established guiding considerations for development. Coupled with community input, planning and design industry professionals generated innovative ideas and refined development parameters, carving out the following design considerations: (1) Access for public open space and recreation, including integration into the town trail system; (2) Preservation of the Carter farmhouse; (3) Agricultural components, including robust community gardens and other scalable uses; (4) Commercial such as a destination inn, market and/or farm to table restaurant; and (5) Housing – a mix of types, sizes and price points.
The resulting vision celebrates a mix of commercial, residential, and abundant community uses. ESLC’s vision leverages off public access connections, including the Carter Farmhouse and a new destination farm to table inn as amenities, which would further connect communities to the land and retains the farm’s agricultural heritage though community gardens. The vision integrates with the trail system around Town, opens access to the Corsica River, and invites Town residents and visitors onto the property as a hub of commercial and community activities with a balance of housing to add to a core of downtown energy.
The organization’s contract on Chesterfield ended on Wednesday, September 21st at 5pm, as the conservation group was unsuccessful in recruiting a development or financial partner to advance the project. Also without success, ESLC approached the current owner with a proposal for a partnership that would have pushed the development towards the community vision with ESLC fundraising to offset costs of added community amenities.
While the nonprofit group’s contract has lapsed, ESLC remains committed to Centreville. According to ESLC Center for Towns Director Katie Parks, the priority is “to support the outcomes of the community conversation and determine how they may be applied to the property now, or be set in place for when the property is developed in the future.” ESLC will share the conceptual visual with the town and public, including a narrative outlining their process, lessons learned, and recommendations.
The outpouring of support and ideas from the community was inspiring to ESLC and yielded a vision rooted in community, which prioritizes public access to the land and water. And while turning that vision into reality at Chesterfield is elusive today, Centreville can still grow by choice on this farm and others. The organization is deeply grateful to the communities and leadership of Centreville for their partnership in reimagining this gem.