The following letter is from a member of the Chester/Stevensville Citizens Advisory Committee in response to an article that appeared in the Record Observer.
A personal comment from the KIDL Postmistress: I attended one of the CAC meetings. At that meeting, I heard the consultant who is working with the Citizens Advisory Committee (Redman Johnston Associates) say that in many jurisdictions these are referred to as “planning areas” as opposed to “growth areas”. I would like to see Queen Anne’s County officially adopt the wording of “planning areas” rather than always referring to “growth areas”.
Planner Confused On CAC
Some parts of Mr. Martin's article were understated. There is considerable mistrust by some of the CAC citizens of the Planning Commission and the Planning Staff. As stated, previous Planning Staffs and Commissioners were at a minimum, condescending to previous CAC citizens, and perhaps more accurately, it appears that they were outright misleading for their own selfish purposes.
So, are the plans in 'jeopardy', as Peter Lee suggests? Good people sharing good ideas and showing concern about their community is not placing any plan in jeopardy, except perhaps those unspoken plans of greedy people, which the CAC will be sure to do their best to keep in check. As long as we can count on the QA County Commissioner's to protect the mandate of the CAC, these people will accomplish their mission for the good of all QA County residents.
However, it appears from the language they're using that the Planning Commission politicos are hard at work setting the stage to undermine the results of the CAC. The Planning Commission has proven that the planning process is easy for them to manipulate, until the people are wakened. Wake up, Kent Islanders, some developers and their friends in the planning process are doing their best to sell-off the wonderful life we all enjoy. Too bad we can't vote them all off the island!
(Planning) Commission debates sub-growth area plans for Stevensville, Chester
By Tom Martin
Concerns about town plans, created as sub-growth area plans in the late 1990s, created a vigorous discussion during the regular February meeting of the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission. And at least one planning commission member, Peter Lee, fears that lack of consensus in the citizens advisory committee (CAC) for updates to the Stevensville and Chester plans may put these initiatives “in jeopardy”.
“The CAC needs an educational process,” he said of suggestions that the two plans be expanded in scope to include all of Kent Island, which could create a process that would increase costs. He wondered if such concepts were in the CAC’s jurisdiction. Commission member Scott Jacobs acknowledging that he has seen some discord said that only in the most recent CAC meeting was anything significant accomplished.
Commission legal counsel Chris Drummond suggested that some of this lack of unity comes from fears that the planning staff “talked down” to the CACs that created the five community plans through a three-year process in the late 1990s. Planning director Faith Rossing said that these suspicions may go even further. “There are some who would prefer that the planning department have no part in any final document,” she said.
While there is agreement that this CAC will update the Stevensville and Chester community plans in the context of the entire Kent Island, Lee and commission chair Rodger Weese said that there must be a boundary. Lee indicated that the current growth area boundary should not expand.
Weese also indicated that the CAC should understand that its role is “advisory”. He pointed out that the community plans (or growth areas) are created by the planning commission with advice from the planning staff and the CACs.
The County Commission ultimately has the power to approve such plans, which are a key element in state funding for infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, school and recreational improvements). The community plans are also key elements in the Comprehensive Plan, which completed an update in 2003.
County Commissioner Gene Ransom, who also serves as an ex-officio member of the planning commission, said that despite some early problems with the Stevensville-Chester CAC, “I’m hopeful that it will work out”. He was among the majority on the county commission that voted for creation of the CAC to revisit the Stevensville and Chester community plans, which were both approved in 1998 during the tenure of the previous County Commission and different leadership in the planning department.
(Complete story appears in Record Observer, Page B5, February 27, 2004
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