Comprehensive Plan Draft 2: The Good,The Bad, & The Ugly
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
We have only had a couple of days to review the plan but this is what we have noted so far:
It is finally a complete draft of the Plan, with a Purpose Statement, a Heritage Section, a Government and Community Facilities section, and an implementation section.
Generally, the new sections are well-written and duties for implementation are assigned, as requested by citizens.
The draft continues to support the goal of preserving 40,000 acres of prime farm and forest lands (page 3-23)
It calls for better pedestrian and bicycle access (page 7-15)
It calls for facilitating the creation of farmers markets in all Town Centers (page 3-24)
It continues to call for prohibiting additional commercial and retail development along highways outside Town Centers (page 3-26)
The Transportation section fails to address the biggest quality of life issue that the county is facing: the projected 72% traffic volume increase to 83,500 trips per day through Prince Frederick by 2030 which is 39% more trips per day than on MD 5 north of Waldorf in Charles County. And of course that traffic increase will be felt along the entire MD 4 corridor.
The Plan says nothing to solve the TDR problem or to rejuvenate the land preservation program. It says nothing to stop the moratorium for new agricultural preservation districts, other than to “evaluate” the programs (page 3-25).
It talks about creating “vibrant” towns but provides very few concrete steps for making vibrant towns (pages 3-24 and 3-25). It fails to recognize the importance of town center design, community involvement, local business, public art, museums, and unique “place making” experiences, which are vital to creating vibrant towns.
The recommended buildout limit of 37,000 (which is in the 2010 Plan) is not included in the draft. Instead the plan recommends actions that will increase the buildout.
The draft continues to cut developers a break in the town centers by saying that the base density without TDRs is three dwelling units per acre (page 3-13) which is not currently the case. This increases residential buildout.
New residential zoned areas are proposed around town centers which will increase residential buildout (page 3-14)
The Plan says to consider allowing developer–funded extension of public water and sewer into the Residential Areas around Prince Frederick, Lusby and Solomons (page 3-24). This will increase residential buildout.
The Plan allows privately-funded community sewage treatment facilities to serve commercial, industrial and employment uses located outside Town Centers and Residential Areas (page 3-24). Who will ultimately be responsible if they fail? Answer – the county tax payer.
The benchmarks were removed from visions of the Plan. The benchmarks provide a means of monitoring progress and thereby ensure that the visions become reality. As an example, the following transportation benchmark was removed: “A level of service “D” is attained on MD 2/4 and on Town Center roads. A level of service “C” is maintained on County roads and outside Town Centers.” Another example relates to County debt: “the ration of debt service to total revenue is not to exceed 9.5%”. These benchmarks, and the others in the current plan, should be added into the new plan.
The projections for new dwelling units were developed before the draft plan proposed an 83% increase in Prince Frederick, an increase in the size of Solomons and Lusby, and expansions of residential zoning land and developer installed sewer systems (see page 3-12)
The plan continues to say that Calvert is one of the slowest-growing counties in the metropolitan area (see page 2-1). First of all, Calvert considers itself to be a rural county in Maryland, not a metropolitan area like Charles County ascribes to be. We don’t want to be Waldorf and we happen to be the 11th fastest growing county in Maryland, growing at the average rate of most Maryland counties.
The consultant misrepresents the growth potential and underestimates projected growth rate as they relate to the land use changes proposed in the Plan. The plan assumes that the county will only grow by 9,800 people (page 9-6) from 2018 to 2040 (22 years) even though the county grew by 12,000 between 2000 and 2010 and by more than 10,000 in every decade since 1970 (see page 3-10). Just one development underway today (Armory Square) is proposing 590 units, which would yield 12-15% of the estimated growth expected in the next 22 years. At 24 units per acre, 9,800 new residents could fit on just 200 acres of the 83% expansion of Prince Frederick town center.
The Transportation Section is simply misleading and inadequate. It notes that “the County has not seen increasing levels of traffic along the primary county arterial road in recent years” (7-3). Citizens merely have a “perception” problem. It does not report on the 2013 Traffic Study conducted for Prince Frederick which predicts 7 failed intersections in the morning rush hour and 9 failed intersections in the evening rush hour, even with the state compl etion of six lanes and the county’s completion of Chesapeake Boulevard. Either the consultant was never given the public information about project traffic increases or the consultant has chosen to understate the problem.
The sad news is that if the County gets its way (see memo to the Planning Commission dated May 22nd attached to the Planning Commission's May 30th meeting agenda), the public may not be given the opportunity to comment before the Planning Commission recommends a draft for public hearing. However, you can do something now by writing to the Planning Commission and asking them to take their time and to get citizen comments before recommending a draft plan, care of the Planning Commission Administrator Carolyn.Sunderland@calvertcountymd.gov
Please plan to attend the presentation of the Plan on Wednesday, May 30th - 7 p.m. at Calvert Pines