Leonardtown, MD — The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County will hold a public hearing on the proposed Lexington Park Development District Master Plan. State law does not require the commissioners to hold a public hearing but it does require them to either vote it up or down or return it to the planning commission for more work within 150 days.

The commissioners were formally presented with the plan at their Oct. 6 meeting by Land Use and Growth Management (LUGM) Director Phil Shire, Planning Director Jeff Jackman and Planning Commission Chairman Howard Thompson. The commissioners, however, have had a copy of the proposed plan for several weeks.

The finalization of the master plan by the planning commission last month came four years after the process started and more than two years since the commission’s last public hearing on it. Since then the commission has met regularly in work sessions to hammer out the plan which was drafted by LUGM staff.

“We have spent a long time working on this project,” Thompson said, He explained: “We took our time on this. We wanted to make sure we had a good plan for you all.”
The commissioners praised Thompson and the planning commission for their dedication to get the job done. The former commissioner board had hoped they would be able to tackle the issue. Now it’s up to the new board to finalize it.

Shire explained that the plan creates three subareas, north, central and south, but the main focus is on the central area. That real estate includes the historic downtown of Lexington Park and a new development area proposed outside Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s Gate 1.

Commissioner Mike Hewitt [R – 2nd District], who lives in the north area, wondered why the development district was so large. There was an earlier proposal to compress it, but the planning commission in the end went for a larger area that runs up to the Hollywood Town Center.

Hewitt also wanted to know if the larger area was consistent with the state’s Priority Funding Areas that are eligible for state funding. Jackman said it was up to the each county to establish its own development district consistent with state guidelines. But Shire noted, “The subareas were not drawn with respect to the priority funding areas.”

The reaction from the commissioners was generally positive. Commissioner John O’Connor [R – 3rd District] said, “I think it is very well written. Commissioner Todd Morgan [R – 4th District] agreed: “I think you have come up with a very balanced plan.”

Commissioner O’Connor made the motion to hold a public hearing and the motion carried unanimously. The date and place of the hearing is yet to be determined.

For The Bay Net story on the planning commission acceptance of the plan, go to:  http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0915/developmentdistrictplanreadyforprimetime.html

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com