County introduces draft preservation, parks plan
Also get update on Cobb Island bridge lighting
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.