La Plata Planning Commission revises, approves town’s 2015 annual report
The plan includes a summary of development trends contained in the previous four annual reports filed.
“The required annual report, mandated to do every six to ten years, shows a sense of are we on track with what the town’s vision is and trying to address if the comprehensive plan is working,” said La Plata Director of Planning Jeremy Hurlbutt.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the town staff and planning commission identified significant changes to existing programs, zoning ordinances, regulations, financing programs, or state requirements necessary to help achieve the visions and goals of the comprehensive plan during the remaining planning timeframe.
“Most of the planning commission’s feedback were editorial items, some typos and misallocated permits in the wrong year which will be changed in the annual report,” Hurlbutt said.
The La Plata Planning Commission and planning staff are working on a comprehensive zoning code update that will address a number of goals in the town’s comprehensive plan by including additional development standards, implementing goals, and providing clear direction for developers. This includes the creation of a new mixeduse zone, increased landscape and open space requirements, sidewalk requirements, and time limits on approvals.
“The five-year plan is a newer concept than in the past when we did reporting because we were under those number of permits. We’ve never had to address the five-year plan to the state level and so we just wanted to make sure that since it’s the first time that we’ve had to do that, that we were comfortable with how we did it. We also want to make sure we’re consistent with what the town staff wants and what the planning commission wants,” Posey said.
According to the town staff, commercial development has been limited and decreased in the last five years. The Town of La Plata has seen an increase in the number of renovations and new tenants into existing commercial buildings as well as a steady increase in the amount of residential building permits issued since 2011. Most of the residential building permits issued have been for single-family attached dwellings followed by single-family detached dwellings.
“We need to change the trend analysis,” Hurlbutt said. “The annual report says in the last five years we had no multi-family [unit permits] until recently which we need to change to say we have only four multi-family units in the last five years.”
Other potential updates to the town’s comprehensive plan also include forestry priority retention areas, creating a street tree master plan, identifying critical areas including properties with nonconforming uses in downtown and the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center property as well as addressing how the town assesses major facility fees and school seat allocations.
Hurlbutt said the planning commission approved the 2015 Annual Report, conditionally based on the town staff making the changes and edits mentioned during the meeting. Then the report will be sent to the Maryland Department of Planning.