Residents: More plan work needed
By MARGOT MOHSBERG, Staff Writer
Queen Anne's County planners have made a good start on updating the Comprehensive Plan -- but it's only a start, some residents said last night.
At a public hearing attended by more than 50 people in the Board of County Commissioners chambers in Centreville, many said the plan needs stronger recommendations, such as an annual building cap to control development.
"There is more good in the plan than bad, but it's not enough to facilitate Smart Growth," said Brad Rogers, a member of 1000 Friends of Maryland and the Mid-Shore Coalition, development watchdog groups.
Jack Broderick, president of the Kent Island Civic Confederation, said the proposed 2002 plan is not "simply a fine-tuning" of the 1993 plan as county officials have touted it.
"The 2002 plan is a radical departure from the 1993 plan, which calls for the protection of what makes Kent Island unique," he said. "There is a lot of good stuff in the 2002 plan but then there is a lot of stuff that is going to hurt us, particularly on Kent Island."
Two years in the making by
county planners and a 12-member Citizens Advisory Council, the updated
plan recommends that the county promote Kent Island as a place for retirees
and people who want to build a second home.
Faith Rossing, head of the Department of Planning and Zoning's updating effort, said that would reduce the need for new schools and road improvements. (See Note #1 from KIDL below)
The state requires that growth areas go where infrastructure exists, Ms. Rossing said. Kent Island, as well as Queenstown, Grasonville and Centreville, are where the infrastructure and population base are, she said.
The plan, which is not legally binding, serves as the county's guide for managing growth over the next 20 years through mechanisms such as zoning ordinances. Created in 1965, the plan is required by state law to be updated every six years and is behind schedule.
The update estimates the population will increase from just over 40,000 to 55,800 in the next 20 years, and would keep the average number of homes built each year in Queen Anne's County level over the next two decades, between 400 and 600. (See Note #2 from KIDL below.)
Some residents said that will encourage, not control, development.
"You should restore the residents' confidence (in the leadership of the county) by including annual caps on building permits," said Rick Moser, president of the Kent Island Defense League.
The Defense League projects at least 3,682 homes are already in the works for Kent Island in the next 10 years.
Ms. Rossing confirmed about 2,300 homes are planned among three major subdivisions in the works -- Four Seasons, along Castle Marina Road, Gibson's Grant on Route 50 and Ellendale on Route 8. (see Note #3 from KIDL below)
Mike Koval, league vice president, suggested that the county continue to use the 1993 plan until it further changes the 2002 plan.
"I think it's absurd that there is not a paid fire department planned in the county over the next 20 years," he said.
Residents can mail comments on the plan until March 11 to The Liberty Building at 107 N. Liberty St., Centreville, MD 21617.
Put new public facilities such as parks, libraries, schools and senior centers closer together to make designated growth areas more attractive to developers.
Require a certain number of moderately priced homes be included in new, large developments and that current area residents and employees have first crack at buying them.
Expand buffers for residential projects next to agriculturally zoned land to protect farmers from development pressures.
Designate waterfront areas for commercial fishermen to protect them from development.
Set design standards for development in non-growth areas to preserve rural character.
Copies of the 2002 Comprehensive Plan are available at county public libraries, the Liberty Building or online at www.qac.org.
Notes #2 from KIDL: A document from the Department of Planning & Zoning entitled "2002 Comprehensive Plan, Planning Commission - Issue Paper #9, Topic - Building Permit Cap" contains discussion by the Planning Commission on the subject of Building Permit Caps. The plan does NOT contain any mechanism to "keep the average number of homes built each year . . . between 400 and 600." As a matter of fact, in this document the Planning Commission considered annual building permit caps and decided "not to include language in the Comprehensive Plan relating to a building permit cap".
Note #3 from KIDL: The same document (Issue Paper #9) includes a table showing "development applications that are currently under review, or are anticipated in the future" (assuming build-out over a twenty-year time period). For Kent Island alone, in addition to Four Seasons (1350), Gibson's Grant (750) and Ellendale (now 285), the table shows 650 units for H. Brown property, 800 for Kent Manor Inn, and another 1,577 labeled "SKI". We stand by our estimate of 3,682 over 10 years which we obtained from the County's own Rt. 8 Corridor Traffic Study.
KIDL urges residents to become familiar with the comp plan, at the library or on-line, and send in their written comments to the Commissioners by March 11th.