There’s a lot more green in the proposed Tier Map designating future development in Charles County, with 191,194 acres slated for Tier 4.

La Plata, MD – With a draft version of the proposed Charles County Comprehensive Plan before them, the Charles County Commissioners are set to tweak the framework for the county’s future.

At their weekly meeting Tuesday, June 14, Planning Director Steve Ball reviewed proposed changes the board made June 7 and fielded a few more as the plan inches toward a public hearing June 21 in La Plata.

“Does this satisfy what you proposed?” Ball asked.

“It does,” said Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson [D-District 1]. “Thank staff for turning this around as quickly as you did.”

“I would like to echo that,” Charles County Commissioner President Peter Murphy [D] added.

One clear aspect of the proposed amendments is that there is a lot more of the color green on the Tier Map. The commissioners are proposing adding an additional 10,342 acres into Tier 4, severely limiting development in those regions. A proposed 191,194 acres would be designated for limited growth—six-thousand acres more than all of the other tiers combined.

It’s a road map for a greener Charles County, that’s for sure, and certainly indicates a shift from previous boards.

Some of the proposed changes include removing lands around Maryland Airport from the development area and shifting Bryans Road from its village plan to mixed use and placing more land around Marshall Hall and Marbury into Tier 4 from Tier 2.

The most significant change, according to Ball, is the removal of 10,276 acres from the Deferred Development District around northwestern sections of Waldorf and southern sections of the Bryans Road area.

“That’s probably the biggest change proposed,” Ball noted. “Probably half of it is undeveloped at this time. We will work with the legal staff to determine which projects have vested rights,” he added.

There is also a review of 1,160 acres the Charles County Planning Commission placed within the proposed Watershed Conservation District.

Ball said discussion, which is likely to preclude next week’s public hearing, would center on whether to keep the property as it is now designated or put it outside of that district.

Language was also included banning fracking or drilling for natural gas in the county.

It is also clear through deliberations that the county wants the plan to protect delicate resources, as it proposes changing densities in all major stream valleys from one unit per three acres to one unit per 10 acres and alters the Mattawoman Creek stream valley density to one unit per 20 acres, and includes the Nanjemoy and Mattawoman stream valleys as a new Rural Legacy Designation Area.

Commissioner Amanda Stewart [D – District 3] suggested some modifications to language in different aspects of the plan, asking language be added that a certain number of housing units be listed as affordable housing.

She also proposed creating a Charles County Affordable Housing Board.

“I am proposing a new board and once that board is created, they will help monitor the new law to make sure affordable housing is included,” she said.

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