Res­i­dents should un­der­stand im­pacts of WCD

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

By now, most res­i­dents of Charles County are aware of the pro­posed zon­ing changes re­sult­ing from the adop­tion of Charles County’s Com­pre­hen­sive Plan. Un­for­tu­nately, most of us still don’t fully un­der­stand how the great­est re­stric­tion of prop­erty rights in gen­er­a­tions will af­fect us.

I at­tended the past three plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ings on Nov. 28, Jan. 9 and Jan. 12. It is not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that there was over­whelm­ing op­po­si­tion to the cre­ation of the Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion District (WCD), as well as its as­so­ci­ated zon­ing changes. Af­ter the Nov. 28 meet­ing, the county re­luc­tantly agreed to send a let­ter to the af­fected prop­erty own­ers. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing these let­ters, cit­i­zens packed the Jan. 9 meet­ing, re­sult­ing in the con­tin­u­ance to the Jan. 12 meet­ing. This out­pour­ing should have alerted our county to the fact that more en­gage­ment was needed. Equally trou­bling, there has been minimal out­reach from the as­so­ci­ated de­part­ments of county gov­ern­ment as to how we will be im­pacted. There are still many unan­swered ques­tions.

From the Depart­ment of Plan­ning, please in­form your res­i­dents within the pro­posed 36,000 acre WCD as to whether they will be able to add on to their home, pave their drive­way, add a shed, or add a side­walk to their prop­erty if they al­ready ex­ceed the 8 per­cent im­per­vi­ous sur­face re­stric­tion be­ing pro­posed. How many prop­er­ties will be re-cat­e­go­rized “non-con­form­ing” af­ter these changes are en­acted? Who makes the de­ter­mi­na­tion and when will prop­erty own­ers be no­ti­fied? What are the im­pli­ca­tions of own­ing a “non-con­form- ing” prop­erty? Does this have to be dis­closed by sell­ers when they even­tu­ally try to sell their homes? Due to the im­per­vi­ous sur­face re­stric­tions, will banks con­tinue to lend money for home loans if the prop­er­ties can’t be re­built, as they were, in the event of fire or dam­age? Isn’t it ra­tio­nal to think that the value of a “non-con­form­ing” house or busi­ness will be less than that of a con­form­ing prop­erty? Based on our prox­im­ity to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and Po­tomac River, can’t ev­ery prop­erty in Charles County be re-zoned wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion at some point in the fu­ture? From the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, one of your strate­gic fo­cuses was to “Sup­port Im­prove­ment of Maryland Air­port”. How does elim­i­nat­ing com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial zon­ing ad­ja­cent to the air­port sup­port im­prove­ment of Maryland Air­port? How will these zon­ing changes help to cre­ate more high pay­ing jobs here in Charles County?

It is im­por­tant that all cit­i­zens be dili­gent, in­formed and en­gaged as to what is cur­rently hap­pen­ing. Rights that each of us now pos­sess as prop­erty own­ers are at stake. The en­act­ment of the pro­posed changes will sig­nif­i­cantly limit what you can or can­not do with your prop­erty. If you’ve ever thought about ren­o­vat­ing your home, build­ing a shed, or paving your drive­way, who should get the fi­nal say? If en­acted, this de­ci­sion will trans­fer that power from the 9,400 af­fected prop­erty own­ers to a se­lect few in gov­ern­ment. For those that don’t think they are af­fected, watch and know that you could eas­ily be next. You can reg­is­ter your op­po­si­tion to the WCD, and its as­so­ci­ated zon­ing amend­ments, by send­ing an email to the plan­ning depart­ment at pick­erth@charlescoun­tymd.gov. Gov­ern­ment over­reach is not the so­lu­tion. Open, hon­est di­a­logue is the so­lu­tion to this is­sue. In or­der for this to oc­cur, se­ri­ous ques­tions need to be asked and an­swered. We ex­pect this from our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and our county gov­ern­ment.

Brian Klass, Nan­je­moy

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