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Town Meeting Held on Master Plan
St. Leonard, MD - 8/22/2012
By Marty Madden
Calvert County Commissioner Steven R. Weems [R] hosted a town hall meeting on proposed revisions to the St. Leonard Town Center Master Plan Monday, Aug. 20 at the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department. The two-hour session drew over 50 residents.
Weems, a St. Leonard resident and business owner, restated that he intends to abstain from voting on the plan’s modifications when it comes before the full board for adoption.
With the aid of Department of Community Planning and Building Director Charles Johnston and Principal Planner Jenny Plummer Welker, Weems spent most of the evening fielding questions and comments from the audience.
Plummer-Welker presented an overview of the revised document, which is currently in its third draft. “It [plan] is a vision, an overall policy document,” she said. The original master plan for the St. Leonard Town Center was adopted in 1995 and amended in 1998. Plummer-Welker said the plan is being reorganized so that it is consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Two changes to the town center’s parameters—an adjustment to the north boundary and expansion of the southern boundary to include St. Leonard Elementary School—are proposed. The latter change was proposed as a way to locate the school within the Priority Funding Area as a way to ensure the school obtains state funding should county officials want to expand or renovate it.
“This is a plan, it builds upon itself,” said Weems, who recalled attending the initial meeting on the St. Leonard Town Center Master Plan in 1993 at Mutual Elementary School.
Several residents weighed in on the plan to build a second road connecting the bayside communities of Calvert Beach and Long Beach to Route 765. Residents said any kind of second way out of the beach subdivisions in the event of an emergency would be helpful, even a road that wasn’t built to state or local government standards. “You bring up a good point,” said Plummer-Welker, who added the road could be used strictly “on an emergency basis.” She added there is money in the county’s Capital Improvement Projects fund to study the issue.
While Johnston said the adverse impact the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 could have on the St. Leonard Town Center was “not terribly great,” he admitted any hopes of obtaining state funds to build a wastewater treatment plant to service the town were “slim and none.” Under the legislation, St. Leonard could be located within “Tier 2,” since public sewer is “planned” in the town. There do not appear to be any major subdivisions planned for the St. Leonard area.
“Everybody’s anxious to get it done correctly,” said Johnston of the county government staff’s work to finish a county document to bring Calvert into compliance with the controversial state law.
One area of division among some of the meeting’s attendees was the St. Leonard Streetscape, which was constructed early last decade when state funding was available. “These sidewalks go nowhere,” said one female meeting goer. Another woman in the audience, however, indicated the sidewalks were a key component to making the town’s residents healthier since they encourage walking. The current town center master plan draft includes a proposal to dramatically expand the sidewalk network.
When the subject of potential commercial development the Mixed Use District came up, Weems admitted his family is planning to build a new store next to the office building currently housing the St. Leonard Post Office. Most of the town center’s commercial property is located in the Core District.
The county commissioners and Calvert County Planning Commission held a joint public hearing July 31 on the proposed St. Leonard Town Center Master Plan draft revision. The planning commission opted to keep the public record open for 30 days. The record will close Aug. 30. Then it will be up to the planning commission to the planning to commission to prepare the plan and send it to the county commissioners. At least three of the four county commissioners who will vote on the plan must approve it in order for the revised plan to be adopted.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com
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