La Plata, MD – On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, Department of Planning and Growth Management staff provided a presentation to Commissioners on fiscal considerations related the Watershed Conservation District (WCD) Zone. Most properties within the district are subject to limited residential density for the purpose of protecting the watershed, and the natural resources and recreational assets within it. The properties within the district broadly retained or increased in value according to recent state assessment data. Staff presented information on a forthcoming zoning text amendment that would grandfather certain development projects that have recorded 10 percent of their lots and constructed associated infrastructure; discussed airport rezoning that is underway; and outlined the highest scoring criteria for designating new Rural Legacy Areas. They shared possible amendments and summarized options for the Commissioners to consider that could reduce impacts of the WCD Zone requirements.

Economic Development Department staff updated the Commissioners on the status of a report that will assess current conditions and market potential for an area encompassing Bryans Road and the Maryland Airport. This concurrent study is separate and distinct from the Planning and Growth Management effort, with a common objective of informing how the Commissioners evaluate their options.

Open Session Briefings

Deputy County Administrator Deborah E. Hall and Director of Human Resources Alexis Blackwell briefed Commissioners on their work with the Government Alliance on Racial Equity (GARE), a collaborative program hosted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. They shared information on a racial equity tool that can applied to proactively eliminate racial inequities and advance equity. A cohort of five county staff are participating in GARE and proposed a pilot project locally that will apply the racial equity tool to analyze public transportation needs. Staff plan to develop and implement community engagement strategies and recommend improvements and changes that could be made based upon input from a broader range of diverse stakeholders throughout the community.

Department of Planning and Growth Management staff reviewed recommendations from the Rural Planning and Zoning Task Force and highlighted revisions to zoning regulations that could be implemented.  They discussed proposals that would require further study and provided details on next steps that could be taken to move forward.

Legislative Updates

Associate County Attorney Danielle Mitchell briefed Commissioners on legislative activities in the Maryland General Assembly, which convened its 90-day session last month. She updated them on important policy issues that could affect the county and discussed the status of legislative proposals that Commissioners submitted to the local delegation. Mitchell also advised Commissioners that legislation has been proposed to implement recommendations from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. A variety of funding mechanisms are being considered that could affect the county.

Approval Items

Commissioners approved:

• A budget transfer request of $61,620 to contract services for the Detention Center roof replacement project.

• A budget transfer request of $113,240 to contract services for the Detention Center Annex roof and wall improvement project.

• A lease agreement with GymFIT Physical Therapy and Wellness for rental of space at the Capital Clubhouse.

• Letters requesting support of a grant application Fiscal 2020 Maryland Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program from all members of Charles County’s local delegation.

Commissioners began the meeting with introduction of high school student leaders who visited and learned about local government as part of National Groundhog Shadow Day. The program is sponsored by Charles County Public Schools and provides students with the opportunity to explore their career interests. View and download the photos from the county’s online gallery.

• Commissioners recognized student government representatives from General Smallwood Middle School for their successful winter coat drive. View and download the photo from the county’s online gallery.

• Commissioners proclaimed February as Black History Month and recognized the contributions and experiences of residents who represent the rich cultural diversity of Charles County. Members of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and representatives from Omega Psi Phi fraternity received the proclamation. View and download the photo from the county’s online gallery.

• Commissioners recognized members of Project Linus and proclaimed February 21, 2020 as “Make a Blanket Day” in Charles County. Members of Project Linus provide gifts of new, handmade blankets, and afghans to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or in need within the community. View and download the photo from the county’s online gallery.

Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.