Updated: Feb 7, 2019
NOTE: We learned after publication of this blog that the PC will begin detailed review of the Comp Plan at its regular meeting on July 18th. If you wish to submit comments for that meeting, the deadline is Friday, July 6th. (But they will continue to accept comments after that date for future meetings.) To make it easier for citizens to submit comments, we've created this form, which sends your comments directly to the PC and the Commissioners.
We are very grateful to four members of the Planning Commission who voted to carefully review each section of the draft Comprehensive Plan before “recommending” it for public hearing. One reason for our gratitude is that details matter on issues like how much more growth we may experience with the expansions of town centers and residential areas proposed. The draft Plan includes “projections” based on current zoning, so that’s what I used to calculate the potential growth for this blog. My numbers could be higher or lower based on a number of factors.
As you’ll see, the numbers are shocking. And keep in mind this blog only covers the expansion of the
Prince Frederick Town Center and the adjacent Residential Areas, which constitute only a fraction of the 5,940-acre expansions proposed for the TCs or the 17,200 acres in Residential Areas proposed. Click here to see a detailed list of all proposed expansions provided by Planning & Zoning staff.
Over the next week, I’ll be doing the same analysis for the rest of the proposed zoning changes. Meanwhile, I hope that County staff is hard at work replicating the data and keeping the public informed as well.
Calculations of Proposed Expansions:
In his presentation to the Planning Commission, Planning Director Mark Willis noted that in Draft 2 of the Comprehensive Plan, nearly all of the Prince Frederick Town Center (TC) expansion was being deferred to “phase two”. I looked at it carefully and could not find where the phase one area was until I pulled up the current zoning map. That is one of my big criticisms of the draft Plan and the planning process. They never tell you what they have changed. The citizens have to figure it out for themselves. I suspect that’s a challenge for the Planning Commission too.
Based on my research, 94+ acres (4 properties) are being rezoned near the Prince Frederick Crossing development from Employment Center to Town Center in Phase 1 and 427 acres of undeveloped or very underdeveloped acres are in the Phase 2 area. See the table below for the potential number of new dwelling units in the expanded areas.
In addition to expanding the Prince Frederick TC, the county is proposing to replace the current 1-mile radius around the TC with Residential Area totaling 4,100 acres. A density of 4 units per acre is proposed as well as expansion of water and sewer so that the maximum density can be achieved. I went through the proposed Residential Area and found 982 acres in larger tracts that could be developed and many others that could be redeveloped. The table below shows how many additional units could be expected in the Residential Area.
The final table combines the two tables above to show the total number of dwelling units possible and then shows calculations for how many new residents would be expected to occupy those units.
*Range based on 14 units/acre or 24 units/acre
**# of dwelling units multiplied by 2.1 people per unit
The Planning Commission should expect that the County staff will provide such numbers before the members can vote on the Plan. How else can they project the impact of the changes on roads, schools, potable water, and the environment as required by state law? Of course, another way would be to delete the “Prince Frederick Town Center Phasing” map (pg. 3-18) from the comprehensive plan. It is better handled at the comprehensive rezoning phase of the implementation of a plan.
One other thought, the county has been pushing hard for more commercial development and yet the consultant is proposing to change 400 acres of Employment Center zoning to Town Center which will allow 14 residential units per acre. Does this make sense? And why should the properties around Prince Frederick Crossing be in phase 1? Who benefits? Will it be the citizens or just a few property owners?
 As stated, these are my conservative calculations based on properties that appear to be available for future development in the expanded area of the TC and the adjacent Residential Area. If you add up the existing TC plus the proposed expansion of the TC plus the adjacent Residential Area, the total will be 7,190 acres, according to staff.