Plan­ners: No more devel­op­ment with­out ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties

Move falls in line with com­mis­sion­ers

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

In Jan­uary, the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to dis­con­tinue grant­ing devel­op­ment rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties agree­ments with­out hav­ing ad­e­quate pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties — such as wa­ter sys­tems, roads and school space — for sub­se­quent devel­op­ment.

On Mon­day evening, the Charles County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion de­cided to fol­low suit af­ter a short pub­lic hear­ing on the mat­ter. Plan­ning Com­mis­sion Chair­man Buddy Bowl­ing said since the county’s board of com­mis­sion­ers al­ready voted in fa­vor of the pol­icy, clos­ing the pub­lic record and mov­ing it back to the com­mis­sioner’s of­fices would ce­ment the zon­ing into law.

Plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­bers Nancy Schertler and Robin Barnes both agreed with Bowl­ing that the county needed to show con­sis­tency on the mat­ter and clos­ing the pub­lic record af­ter the pub­lic hear­ing would be nec­es­sary.

The com­mis­sion voted 6-1 with Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner Wayne Ma­goon be­ing the lone vote of de­scent. text amend­ment

“If this is some­thing we need to do to be con­sis­tent with what the county com­mis­sion­ers have al­ready done, I’m not sure we do need to keep the record open,” Schertler said.

Barnes said it is a mat­ter that they keep things con­sis­tent with the rest of the county gov­ern­ment.

Deputy County At­tor­ney El­iz­a­beth Theobalds said the amend­ment pre­vents the county from ap­prov­ing any de­vel­oper rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties agree­ments with­out hav­ing ad­e­quate pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties for any devel­op­ment be­ing planned.

Es­sen­tially, Theobalds said, if there is an agree­ment it must be done with the con­sid­er­a­tion of roads, schools and the wa­ter sup­ply sys­tem in the area. If those fa­cil­i­ties are not ad­e­quate enough, she said, the county will not grant the per­mit.

“This pol­icy will do away with [de­vel­oper’s rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties agree­ments] with­out hav­ing the ad­e­quate pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties for them,” Theobalds said. “Our process builds into it with reg­u­lar checks and re­ports. This par­tic­u­larly ad­dresses de­vel­oper’s rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties agree­ments.”

Peggy Ire­land, a Charles County cit­i­zen from In­dian Head Manor, said the is­sue of hav­ing ad­e­quate pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and supplies be­fore any devel­op­ment is es­sen­tial to pre­serv­ing county neigh­bor­hoods.

Mak­ing sure chil­dren are prop­erly ed­u­cated is a pri­or­ity, Ire­land said, adding that hav­ing them learn­ing in proper and ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties is part of that.

When Ire­land first moved into In­dian Head Manor years ago, she said, she had neigh­bors with chil­dren who were be­ing ed­u­cated in tem­po­rary class­rooms. Be­cause de­vel­op­ments were ap­proved with­out ad­e­quate space in the schools they were zoned for, Ire­land said, stu­dents had to be moved into those class­rooms.

“It’s not the best learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. It’s not the best ac­tiv­i­ties for these kids,” Ire­land said.

Hav­ing the right pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties for chil­dren is im­por­tant for the fu­ture of the county, Ire­land said, and the zon­ing text amend­ment be­ing dis­cussed ad­dresses that is­sue.

The is­sue is some­thing “im­por­tant enough” to come out and speak on, she said.

“So hav­ing the right fa­cil­i­ties for our chil­dren and for our fu­ture is some­thing that is be­ing ad­dressed in this. It’s some­thing im­por­tant enough for us to have some­one out here.”

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