County in­tro­duces draft preser­va­tion, parks plan

Also get up­date on Cobb Is­land bridge light­ing

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­ Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

The Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers re­ceived three com­ments on its draft 2017 land preser­va­tion, parks and recre­ation plan dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing Tues­day night.

Adam Bossi, project man­ager for GreenPlay LLC, which pro­vides parks recre­ation and open space con­sult­ing, said that every five years, Mary­land re­quires coun­ties and the City of Bal­ti­more to up­date and re­vise their land preser­va­tion, parks and recre­ation plan.

Bossi said that since 2012, the county has re­ceived ap­prox­i­mately $1.5 mil­lion in grants from Project Open Space, a Mary­land ini­tia­tive to pro­vide fund­ing for out­door, recre­ation and other open space ini­tia­tives.

Through fo­cus groups and on­line sur­veys, Bossi said GreenPlay found that a high level of sat­is­fac­tion with parks and recre­ation as­sets in the county, but there is con­cern that de­mand is ex­ceed­ing ca­pac­ity.

The plan out­lines three goals; to meet ex­ist­ing needs and fa­cil­i­ties, de­velop new fa­cil­i­ties to meet pro­jected growth, and to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween trails.

Tara Carl­son of Wal­dorf said she sup­ports the goals, but would like to see more to im­prove bio­di­ver­sity and de­vel­op­ing wildlife cor­ri­dors.

“Also there needs to be a fo­cus on con­tain­ing in­va­sive species. What would be gained if all the pre­served land is en­gulfed by kudzu?” Carl­son said.

Bon­nie Bick of the Sierra Club said she would also like to see sup­port for out­door class­rooms.

“The school sys­tem can pro­vide ex­po­sure to the en­vi­ron­ment for chil­dren, and the schools should be sur­veyed to see how they can pro­vide that pub­lic ac­cess to the out­doors,” Bick said.

Bick said she would also like to see more park and recre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able in the Wal­dorf area.

Lau­rie Snow of Bryans Road said there is a lack of in­for­ma­tion about some of the smaller trails in the county.

“As a user, I can tes­tify that it is hard to find in­for­ma­tion about the lo­cal parks. The big­ger ones have it, but not the lo­cal ones, and that would be a real as­set to get that out there. Right now, in­for­ma­tion is passed from user to user,” Snow said.

Ad­di­tional com­ments may be sub­mit­ted in writ­ing to the board un­til July 25. The com­mis­sion­ers are ex­pected to vote on the draft plan Aug. 1.

Ear­lier in the day, the com­mis­sion­ers also voted unan­i­mously to adopt leg­is­la­tion that clar­i­fies that when the com­mis­sion­ers have a de­ci­sion ap­pealed, the next level of ap­peals is the Cir­cuit Court of Charles County, not the Board of Ap­peals.

“It makes clear that a de­ci­sion by the Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers can­not be ap­pealed to the Board of Ap­peals,” said Rhonda Weaver, county at­tor­ney. “The ap­peal goes to the cir­cuit court. This makes it clear in our statute.”

The board also voted unan­i­mously to ap­prove a MOU with the state for the de­vel­op­ment of a new Cobb Is­land Road Bridge, af­ter learn­ing that a de­ci­sion on the light­ing can be made at a later date.

“We did have a con­ver­sa­tion with the state, and there’s no is­sue at all with us hav­ing some on­go­ing in­put into the de­sign of the light­ing on the bridge,” said Bill Shreve, direc­tor of pub­lic works.

The com­mis­sion­ers held a pub­lic hear­ing last week, dur­ing which peo­ple spoke out about the num­ber and de­sign of the bridge light­ing.

Robin­son said he has re­ceived ad­di­tional mes­sages in sup­port of the light­ing.

“I have not re­ceived ad­di­tional op­po­si­tion, and I have re­ceived a lot of ad­di­tional sup­port for the light­ing, so I think we’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” Robin­son said.

Mur­phy said that if the com­mis­sion­ers en­gage with the state at this stage in the process, the state will pay half the cost, whereas if they ap­prove light­ing later, the county will have to cover all of the costs.

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