Planning commission was right to alert residents to zone change
As president of the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors, representing more than 1,500 realtors and 100 affiliate members in the region, on behalf of both our membership and all property owners in Charles County specifically, I want to commend the Charles County Planning Commission for approving and passing the motion to notify the affected property owners in the proposed Watershed Conservation District, ZMA 16-54 Map by certified mail and holding another public hearing. It stands within our mission statement to support the protection of private property rights and for almost 600 members directly in Charles County, their employees, families and clients, we feel the notification and a further public hearing will allow residents more time to understand the implications of this downzone.
Repeatedly at the public hearing, we heard proud Charles County residents testify several concerns including the realization of loss of value to personal property; asking for the county to compensate calling upon due process as protected by the Constitution; some asked for clarification to who even was affected on the map. Testimony was a perfect sampling of what Charles County values represent: church leadership who bought land for their members to build a safe haven to worship, families who plan to hand down homes to future generations and farmers who provide a service to this county and its residents. Three to one, public outcry was heard and we applaud you for taking appropriate first steps.
Despite the good start, we have a journey ahead of us. On behalf of property owners and our membership, we respectfully request, as did many residents of Charles County and several members of the planning commission, for a comprehensive fiscal analysis to better understand the affect these proposed changes will have on the county. Tax revenues, home values, lost development and future housing, no new business and existing business restrictions, the airport district — these need to be considered when proposing such a massive downzone.
However, we may be successful in helping the planning commission educate the affected property owners and Charles County residents, sharing data of fiscal information which already exists, please let us know. We are in this together and all of us want what is best for the future of Charles County.
Lisa Van Tassel, Hughesville The writer is the president of the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors.