Supporters and opponents of the draft of the 2012 Charles County Comprehensive Plan spoke out in a marathon public hearing on Tuesday night. The epic hearing featured an election night atmosphere ahead of a vote that could determine the outcome of the 2014 county elections.
The public hearing comes after more than two years of public meetings, design charettes and planning commission meetings. After the design charettes and public meetings, a “merged scenario” was developed by Charles County’s Planning and Growth Management staff. When the plan went to Charles County’s seven member planning commission, it began to look a lot less like the plan many people wanted and a lot more like the 2006 Charles County Comprehensive Plan. What followed were months of political fighting and a general lack of civility on some levels of county governance.
Growing concerns by members of the general public and interested parties over school overcrowding, property values, development rights, taxation, quality of life and more all culminated and came to the surface on Tuesday night at what looked like Charles County’s Daytona 500. A capacity crowd and more greeted the five members of the Charles County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night’s public hearing and the fireworks were at the podium.
Former Commissioner President and Maryland State Delegate Murray Levy has actively lobbied for the Balanced Growth Initiative (BGI), a group of developers and farmers. He spoke during the hearing, blasting a robocall and saying the plan continues 43 years of progress in the county.
“We have better schools, better opportunities and more shopping today,” Levy stated. “The last 43 years equal progress. CNN named Waldorf one of 20 best places to live in the United States.”
Levy said the plan impacts every road and said the plan doesn’t take sides between the environment and economic development before urging the panel to vote to adopt the plan. He, along with other supporters of the plan, also brought up the cross county connector project – a proposed road connecting Waldorf to Bryan’s Road. Despite multiple permit denials on the state and federal levels, the cross county connector is included in the comprehensive plan.
Johnnie DeGorgi, who is challenging incumbent Commissioner Debra Davis (D) in the second district election, ripped the plan as a bad plan, saying, “13 state agencies called the county’s draft ‘unsustainable’ and warned it would violate state law and jeopardize future state funding.”
DeGorgi also criticized the continued insistence that the cross county connector be developed, stating, “Cross county connector, here we go again. It was denied so why are we still talkin