Per­mit de­lays ex­tended for WCD plan

Reg­u­la­tions will be de­cided on in six months

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­

The Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion District has been a hot but­ton is­sue in Charles County for months now, and that does not look to be chang­ing any­time soon.

Dur­ing their Tues­day meet­ing, the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to con­tinue a res­o­lu­tion that would ex­tend tran­si­tional pro­vi­sions that pre­vent de­vel­op­ers from sub­mit­ting ap­pli­ca­tions for new devel­op­ment in the county be­fore the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion district’s zon­ing reg­u­la­tions are set.

The com­mis­sion­ers voted 3-1, with Com­mis­sioner Bobby Rucci (D) the lone

vote of dis­sent, to grant a six month ex­ten­sion on the res­o­lu­tion. Com- mis­sioner De­bra Davis (D) was ab­sent from the meet­ing.

Steve Kaii-Zei­gler, the di­rec­tor of the county’s Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Growth Man­age­ment, said plan­ning staff would be able to “limit” cer­tain types of devel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions that could be submitted un­der the res­o­lu­tion. The ex­ten­sion ap­proved on Tues­day would ex­tend that res­o­lu­tion for six months, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal res­o­lu­tion, no county of­fi­cials may process or ap­prove new or pend­ing pre­lim­i­nary sub­di­vi­sion plans, any new or pend­ing site devel­op­ment plans, any new devel­op­ment ser­vices per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions or any new or pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for piece­meal re­zon­ing within the bound­aries of the area be­ing pro­posed for the Wa­ter­shed Conser va­tion District.

That res­o­lu­tion was ap­proved in Septem­ber, Kaii-Zei­gler said. Since then, he said, there has been a lot of progress that has been made.

“Since that time, the staff work­ing with the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice and the plan­ning com- mis­sion has de­vel­oped a se­ries of text amend­ments and a map­ping com­po­nent that would go with that,” Kaii-Zei­gler said.

There have been two public hear­ings on the wa­ter­shed con­ser­va­tion district since, he said, and many pieces of public in­put given to the county out­side of any hear­ings.

The plan­ning commission also had a work ses­sion sched­uled on the district on Mon­day evening, but the meet­ing was de­layed an­other two weeks due to the pend­ing storm.

“We’re an­tic­i­pat­ing the plan­ning commission to be able to com­plete its work and make its rec­om­men­da­tion to you within the next six weeks or so,” Kaii-Zei­gler said.

The res­o­lu­tion’s ex­ten­sion only lasts for an­other six months, Kaii-Zei­gler said, and the county is plan­ning on the process be­ing com­pleted by then. That would give the county com­mis­sion­ers an­other “four to four and a half months,” to have the reg­u­la­tions for the district com­pleted.

County At­tor­ney Rhonda Weaver said it is her rec­om­men­da­tion to have the reg­u­la­tions for the district com­pleted within the next six months. Legally, there could be an­other ex­ten­sion, she said, but stretch­ing the process out for more than a year may not bode well for the county or its cit­i­zens.

“We don’t want the tran­si­tion in place for any longer than a year,” she said.

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Murphy (D), who, for clar­i­fi­ca­tion, asked if there could be an­other ex­ten­sion af­ter the one the com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved on Tues­day. But ul­ti­mately, he said, that is the goal for the com­mis­sion­ers as well.

“I just wanted to know for sure what we were work­ing with,” he said. “I think that’s the goal of the board as well.”

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