Indian Head Planning Commission discusses comprehensive plan review process for 2017
The Indian Head Planning Commission has been working toward completing the review of the town’s comprehensive plan, which will help bring the town code up to date. According to Michael Pellegrino, chair- man of the Town of Indian Head Planning Commission, the comprehensive plan is supposed to guide the town for the next 10 years in aspects such as land use, growth and economic policy.
During the planning commission meeting Nov. 30, members discussed the revisions made to the draft of the town’s com- prehensive plan. Lucinda Stevens, a zoning and engineering consultant who is assisting Indian Head Zoning Administrator Richard Parks, presented the newly-made revisions to planning commission members and provided them with handouts to take home to further read and understand the document.
“It’s pretty extensive,” Stevens said. “There are certain texts and items in gold, that are revisions from the 2009 version, to see what has now been changed. Appendix B is all of the comments that were received to date. It includes emailed com- ments from [commission members], comments from the county, several letters from the [Mary- land Department of Plan- ning] and the Depart- ment of Transportation.”
Stevens said the most significant revision in the comp plan draft is that the Maryland Department of Planning felt the popula- tion that parks used was a little overstated, so the population projections were higher than they felt it should be.
“My understanding is that he has reduced them to be consistent with what they felt is more accurate,” Stevens said.
Pellegrino said the final draft of the comp plan needs to be consistent with the county’s. The Charles County Commis- sioners completed their comprehensive plan earli- er this year.
“There are a number of comments in regards to the comp plan,” Pellegri- no said. “The town has recently undertaken a lot of planning efforts — an economic development plan, the [Urban Land Institute of Washington Technical Assistance Pan- el study], and the [Indi- an Head Joint Land Use Study], all making land use recommendations that pertain to the growth of the town. The future of the town is being mapped out by all of these differ- ent documents because it is the principle guiding document of the town.”
Stevens and Town Clerk Andrea Brady said the planning commission members should take time to consider all of the recommendations and revisions, from the state and county, and then write their additional comments.
“It is a lot to take in,” Brady said.
The planning commission members agreed.
Planning commission member Thomas Blake said he was pleased that supporting documentation was provided in the draft, to help show clarification of the recent changes and recommendations.
“If there is a [comment] that someone could have submitted that was frivolous or valid, I don’t need to see that,” Blake said. “We have to trust our zoning administrator in his function. Having seen him work and having Lucinda on board I think we can rest with knowing that.”
However, Mary Armstrong, a member of the planning commission, said the more eyes reading it, the better the out- come. She said reviewing the comprehensive plan is a big process and there is no need to rush it. Pellegrino agreed. “It’s not something that will happen by next month,” Pellegrino said. “The ULI Washington study, we don’t know what those suggestions are yet and those implica- tions can be included into the comprehensive plan.”
Town Manager Ryan Hicks said the town ex- pects to have the ULI Washington TAP study by the end of December. The study was completed by ULI Washington in September and presented to the town at the Village Green Pavilion.
TAPs are volunteer groups of experienced individuals who have been assembled by ULI Washington for their relevant expertise and typically include planners, architects, real estate developers, traffic engineers, urban economists and other professionals. According to ULI Washington, a TAP provides leadership in the responsible use of land and creating sustainable communities worldwide.
The planning commis- sion decided to set a time period to review the new draft and present addi- tional comments. Blake suggested that as there are 13 recommendations in the comp plan, the members should split them up, as opposed to tackling the whole document at once.
They plan to begin by reviewing and creating comments for the first three sections in January and then have all sections finished by April.
“Once the comprehensive plan is updated and it’s cohesive wth the zon- ing ordinance, then both can be adopted,” Brady said. “Then the town code will be updated. So the town code is on hold of being updated until the zoning ordinance is adopted. The zoning ordinance is on hold until the comp plan is done. There is just a line of things that are in the process.”
The planning commission will not meet in December. Their next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18. However comments about the first three sections of the comp plan — introduction, land use element and environmental element — will be due prior to the meeting, on Jan. 11.