Updated: Feb 7, 2019
Commissioner Tom Hejl shared a post entitled, “THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STATEMENT” on his Facebook Page disputing the accuracy of Keep Calvert Country's (KCC) position on several issues of concern in the current Comprehensive Plan draft. Perhaps Mr. Hejl should read the Plan, as many of the facts can be found there.
Hejl: "The Comprehensive Plan is a long range vision; it does not establish policy.”
KCC Response: It is so much more than just a vision. It is the Official Policy Document for Calvert County, as stated in the Plan itself! Below is the draft Comprehensive Plan Purpose Statement:
“The Calvert County Comprehensive Plan (Plan) is the official policy document for Calvert County. The Board of County Commissioners, the Planning Commission, and county departments use the Plan as a guide when preparing functional plans and small area plans, evaluating proposed projects or considering changes to legislation, such as the zoning ordinance. State agencies use the Plan to determine whether or not to provide state funding for a local project (e.g. Rural Legacy, Community Legacy, public infrastructure, community development projects, etc.). Bond rating agencies look at the Plan to see if the county government is using resources wisely and in a coordinated fashion. Prospective business owners use the Plan to help them make investment decisions. Residents use the Plan to evaluate how well the county government is responding to the goals and objectives written in the Plan.”
Hejl: “The Zoning Ordinance rewrite will establish county regulations consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.”
KCC Response: As stated in the Purpose Statement of the Plan (above), the Zoning Ordinance implements the policies in the Comprehensive Plan and State law requires consistency between the Zoning Ordinance and the Plan. There are numerous policies in the Plan that, if implemented in the Zoning Ordinance, will open up the County for uncontrolled growth.
Hejl: “The Board of County Commissioners IS NOT adding growth without due consideration.”
KCC Response: The Town Centers and surrounding “Residential Areas” are slated for enormous growth. The “due consideration” should include evaluation of the effects of the proposed growth on roads, schools, the environment, and water tables. No such evaluations have been done.
Hejl: “Lusby & Solomons will remain separate town centers.”
KCC Response: The Land Use map in the draft Plan shows no separation between the two Town
Centers and are even labeled together as “Solomons/Lusby” on the proposed Land Use Map.
Hejl: “Dunkirk Town Center was renamed a Major Town Center for consistency. Town centers are either minor or major in name.”
KCC Response: There are significant differences between Major and Minor Town Centers, as described by the draft Plan:
“Major Town Centers – Major Town Centers have a conventional density of three dwelling units per acre, which can be increased using TDRs to a density consistent with the approved Town Center Master Plan. These communities allow a wide variety of commercial and residential development. Future development is guided by a Town Center master plan. Each Major Town Center has nearby residential development.” Page 3-3
“Minor Town Centers – Minor Town Centers have a lower intensity and smaller scale with a more limited variety of commercial and residential development than Major Town Centers. Minor Town Centers are suitable for additional small-scale commercial development and various types of single-family dwellings at a conventional density.” Page 3-3
Hejl: “School enrollment has steadily declined in the past several years; the BOCC coordinates with the BOE and monitors school capacity twice each year.”
KCC Response: The growth proposed in the draft Plan should be based on school capacity, among other considerations. How many new schools will we need to build in order to accommodate the added population? This question has not been answered in the Plan. No growth should be proposed until it is.
Also, the statement that “school enrollment has steadily declined” is proven to be false by the April 1, 2018 Adequate Public Facilities Report for Schools, which shows that three schools are currently over capacity and several others are at 90 to 99% capacity. http://www.co.cal.md.us/DocumentCenter/View/18934
Hejl: “The BOCC has consistently been in favor of adding additional acreage in preservation.”
KCC Response: There has been a moratorium on the creation of Agricultural Preservation Districts the entire time this BOCC has been in office. The funds from a 1999 increase in the recordation fee, which were intended to be used toward agricultural preservation, have been diverted to the General Fund and have not been used for their intended purpose while this BOCC has been in office.
Hejl: “The BOCC does not control an individual’s rights to purchase property, build a home or begin a business; the individual must simply follow the rules that are in place.”
KCC Response: We’re not sure what this “fact” is referring to. It does not relate to any of our expressed concerns and we don't dispute it.
Hejl: “THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN HAS BEEN AN ONGOING PROJECT FOR THREE (3) YEARS WITH CITIZEN INPUT THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS. CITIZEN INPUT REMAINS WELCOME. STAFF HAS NOT BEEN DIRECTED TO RUSH THE PROJECT; QUITE THE CONTRARY.”
KCC Response: Although the public has been invited to participate in the drafting of the Plan, the concerns raised by the public have largely been ignored, and the growth proposed in the Plan was not requested by the general public.
One example of this is the fact that there have been numerous comments submitted requesting that traffic be studied before any growth is proposed. In response, the County is proposing an update to the Transportation Plan after adoption of the Comprehensive Plan. No growth should be proposed until traffic is studied, and a determination is made as to how much growth our roads can support.
Another example is the fact that the Plan states, “Some residents from Huntingtown and Dunkirk preferred the designation “Village” (Minor Town Center) for their respective communities.” Yet Dunkirk is now proposed to be a Major Town Center.
As to the Plan being rushed, Commissioner Slaughenhoupt stated in a June 1, 2018 article in the Recorder that “We’re just trying to hold staff to the schedule.” He went on to say that the comprehensive plan is to be concluded by June of this year. State law dictates that it is the Planning Commission who writes, reviews and adopts the Comprehensive Plan and then sends it to the Commissioners. Why are the Commissioners even setting deadlines?
State law also says Plans are to be reviewed every 10 years. Why is the 2010 Plan being replaced in 2018 if not to rush it through before the elections? If the Commissioners are truly not rushing it, they should not act on it at all and leave the Plan for the next Board to adopt.