Allow provision to create lots for families in Water Conservation District
The recent public hearings on the Watershed Conservation District (WCD) gave rise to considerable passionate testimony, some uncivil behavior and little in the way of compromise.
As a resident and farm owner within the WCD, I am happy to write on behalf of the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County to strongly endorse the district. At the same time, the Smarter Growth Alliance understands the need to get the WCD “right.” After thoughtfully regarding the views of many of our fellow citizens who expressed a desire to provide residences for a family member, we believe that a provision should be added allowing for the creation of lots for children within a family owned parcel.
By reducing building density, the Watershed Conservation District finally reins in the rampant growth that is bedeviling our quality of life, destroying our cherished rural character and damaging our valuable waterways like Mattawoman Creek and the Port Tobacco River. The Watershed Conservation District is a key element of the new Comprehensive Plan, which evolved over five years of meetings, surveys, hearings, citizen testimony and petitions. The plan, which reflects the public will as expressed during that process, responsibly directs growth, conser ves natural areas and respects our quality of life.
Under the old Comprehensive Plan, land within the Watershed Conservation District would have produced at least 17,000 new housing units, according to public testimony by a representative of the real-estate industry. Allowing that would continue the path that has seen sprawl development replace forest and farmland, and made Charles the worst county in the state for commute times, use of school trailers and property-tax hikes that are needed to service far-flung sprawl, which never pays for itself.
Polluted runoff from pavement has already damaged Mattawoman Creek, which has declined from “best tributary to the [Chesapeake] Bay” to the tipping point for irreparable harm, according to fishery scientists’ data. Degraded waterways foreclose outdoor recreation opportunities and the tourism economy. The WCD addresses these problems with lower density. It’s not a new approach. Nine other counties in Maryland facing similar loss of rural character have enacted building densities as low as, or lower than, the Watershed Conservation District.
The Watershed Conservation District, once a provision allowing for the creation of lots for children is added, is a critical part of a family-friendly Comprehensive Plan.