Eight years after adoption Calvert County’s Zoning Ordinance Parking Regulations are likely to undergo some significant modifications. On Tuesday, Aug. 19 and Wednesday, Aug. 20 the two panels that will review proposals from the Department of Community Planning and Building before taking an ordinance rewrite to the public—the Calvert County Commissioners and Calvert County Planning Commission respectively—conducted work sessions on possible changes.

Community Planning and Building Deputy Director Mary Beth Cook conducted the staff proposals at both sessions. Cook stated that among the aims of staff were to reduction of the required number of spaces for businesses to enhance economic viability and reduce the amount of impervious surfaces plus allow additional parking beyond the minimum required without having to make a formal written request.

One proposal that found disfavor with the county commissioners “requiring one electric vehicle charging station when more than 25 parking spaces are required for commercial, industrial and recreational uses.”

“This is the kind of stuff that comes out of left field that makes no sense,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R] who expressed doubt that many county residents own hybrid vehicles requiring electrical charges.

Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] stated vehicles powered by electricity “are not in the mainstream yet.”

Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R] indicated he thought requiring an electrical charging station was burdensome for businesses and didn’t belong in the ordinance since was not business friendly.

“This is just putting another regulation on a business,” said Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter [R].

The proposal got a slightly different reception from the planning commission the following evening. When Cook informed the planners that the county commissioners had directed staff to strike the reference to an electric vehicle charging station from the draft, commission member Roxanne Riddle Cumberland declared, “it’s not up to them [county commissioners] to dictate.”  Cumberland said the planning commission is charged with recommending zoning ordinance changes. “It’s a huge mistake not to consider that [electric charging stations],” she said.

The other planning commission members agreed with Department of Community Planning and Building Director Thomas Barnett that the installation of an electric charging station could serve as an incentive instead of a requirement. The incentive could be in the form of a reduction of required spaces. “If they don’t want to they don’t have to but it’s government creating an option,” said Barnett.

Long Range Planner Jenny Plummer-Welker said that installation of an electric charging station costs about $4,000 and requires users to swipe a credit card in order to initiate the charging process. Currently, Walgreen’s in Lusby has Calvert’s only charging station.

Planning Commission Vice Chairman Mike Phipps said requiring additional parking beyond the minimum to be “pervious surface” would help the county reduce stormwater runoff, which is a goal of the Watershed Implementation Plan.
Planning Commission Member Bill Glascock indicated the proposed reductions for required parking spaces for single-family and multi-family dwellings would not work well in Solomons, where he said “parking is tight.” Cumberland agreed, adding the county’s revised parking requirements “shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all.’ ”

Another issue to be tackled during the parking requirement modification process, Cook stated, will be to “provide dimensions and additional clarification of stacking requirements for drive-throughs and automobile filling stations.”

During the county commissioners’ work session Shaw stated a public meeting prior to the proposed October joint public hearing on the parking requirement modifications “would be a wise idea.” The other four commissioners did not concur.

Slaughenhoupt recommended the Department of Economic Development get various businesses involved in the discussion of the proposed ordinance changes.

The planning commission voted unanimously to forward the staff proposals to various agencies for comment.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com