Prince Frederick, MD – Several Huntingtown residents who want to prevent their hometown from becoming a teeming metropolis attended the July 19 meeting of the Calvert County Planning Commission. Unlike a work session conducted in late June, the residents were allowed at the short session to voice their concerns about the county’s drafted future land use plan.

Prior to opening the floor, Planning Commission Chairwoman Carolyn McHugh reminded the audience that the process to revise Calvert’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance has a long way to go before it is completed. “There will be a public hearing,” said McHugh. She explained the differences between a work session and public hearing, indicating the planning commission—which is comprised of seven citizens, each appointed to five-year terms by the county commissioners—was receiving and reacting to a consultant’s report during the special session in June. While the Comprehensive Plan agenda item was listed as an “update,” McHugh declared, “I have decided to allow comments,” adding, “I am not setting a precedent.”

Huntingtown resident Erin Knowles stated that before Huntingtown experiences any significant residential and commercial growth an environmental impact study and traffic study needed to be done. Regarding the latter issue, Knowles stated, “we already have failing intersections” and additional development means “more traffic, more people, more problems.”

Another resident, T. Smith, indicated residents’ loyalty to the town’s existing businesses was also prompting their concerns about any commercial expansion. “One small business, Bowen’s [Grocery], is amazing,” said Smith, adding that many of the stores loyal customers believe that a new competitor “could knock Bowen’s out of the park.”

Huntingtown resident Andrea Hurley told the Planning Commission that the residents should decide the town’s future direction and affirmed they have not been consulted about the proposed zoning changes.

One proposed project that has drawn concern of several residents is a plan to locate a Fastop convenience store at an existing commercial property on Old Town Road. According to a synopsis from the Calvert County Department of Planning and Zoning, developers plan to repurpose an existing auto sales building, making it a convenience store/liquor store with gas pumps. Other Fastop locations in Calvert County include St. Leonard, Chesapeake Beach and Solomons.

Fastop President John M. Gott Jr. attended the July 19 meeting but did not offer any public comment.

During the Comprehensive Plan update conducted by Department of Planning and Zoning long-range planner Jenny Plummer-Welker, discussion centered on residential area designations and the boundaries for the proposed Huntingtown Village. Three options were submitted for the latter issue, which has created controversy since the current village draft includes properties that are located across Route 2/4 from the existing town center. The parcels include Huntingtown High School (HHS) and a nursery. Proponents of the proposed plan support the high school properties inclusion, since it would make HHS eligible for additional state funds. One option would not include the high school and another would add only the high school to the existing town center boundary. McHugh indicated that the Planning Commission needed more data before it could offer a consensus on the options.
A draft document on the Comprehensive Plan update is due this fall.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com