Permit delays extended for WCD plan
Regulations will be decided on in six months
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.”