Prince Frederick, MD – Nothing is etched in stone but some significant tweaks could be in the offing for Calvert County land use map. During a special meeting of the Calvert County Planning Commission Wednesday, June 28 a consultant gave an overview of the ongoing process to update the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
The segment of the special meeting involving the Comprehensive Plan update was labeled a work session and therefore, members of the public in attendance were not extended an opportunity to speak. It was noted by staff that a series of “issue workshops” were held from March 6 to June 10 with attendees actively participating.
“This is the first stage in writing the draft,” said Department of Community Planning and Building Director Mark Willis. The department’s long-range planner, Jenny Plummer-Welker, stated the public input process for the Comprehensive Plan update actually started last summer. Consultant Jacquelyn Seneschal of WSP USA stated that the five workshops held between early February and mid-May yielded consensus that aims to improve and diversify Calvert’s transportation system, develops of “place-type” strategy for its communities, makes town centers “walkable and bike-able,” preserves rural character, directs growth to designated areas and strengthens the county’s economic viability. Seneschal told the Planning Commission that she heard over and over at the workshops that “the vision for Calvert County is sound.” Seneschal noted that Calvert’s projected population by the year 2040 is over 100,000.
A significant change in Calvert’s land use would be to change three communities’—St. Leonard, Huntingtown and Owings—designations from town center to village. Those communities “have a lower intensity and smaller scale with a more limited variety of commercial and residential development,” the draft summary stated. “These locations are suitable for additional small-scale commercial development and various types of single-family dwellings. Future development will be guided by a small area master plan.”
The summary presented shows Dunkirk remaining a town center and the town centers of Lusby and Solomons virtually joined together. The Prince Frederick Town Center will have its boundaries expanded with expansions in commercial, institutional and residential properties. Seneschal stated Prince Frederick has “real potential for a walkable community.”
“We have reviewed the first draft of the Consultant’s Land Use Plan for the New Comprehensive Plan and it is very disturbing,” a group called Calvert Coalition for Smart Growth (CCSG) posted on social media. “It proposes a substantial amount of new areas called ‘Suburban Residential’ where sewer is proposed to be expanded outside the town centers to allow for multi-family development. This completely negates the ‘build-out’ policies contained in the current Comprehensive Plan with no consideration for the impact the proposed growth will have on our roads, schools, environment, etc. And speaking of the environment, the proposed plan completely conflicts with the recently adopted tier map.”
In an addendum to its comments released prior to the Planning Commission work session, CCSG members were critical of the designation of “Suburban Residential” and claimed the designation was not discussed at any of the workshops.
The group was also critical of the “down-zoning” of Owings, Huntingtown and St. Leonard to “Villages” while at the same time increasing their town center boundaries. The group finds the situation with Huntingtown particularly vexing since the parameter expansion now includes a portion of land on the opposite side of Route 2/4. County government officials have recommended that expansion to include Huntingtown High School, which they want to locate in a “priority funding area.” That stature would make the school eligible for additional state funds.
Planning Commission Member Robert Reed told Seneschal “the state loves to do this [priority funding areas]” but also noted a large number of Huntingtown residents did not favor expanding the parameters to include the high school.
Still Reed and others indicated the Comprehensive Plan rewrite appeared to be moving on the right track.
“What we got right is we know where we are right now,” said Planning Commission Member John Toohey.
Seneschal stated a draft document will be presented to the Planning Commission sometime in the fall.
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org