Town coun­cil seeks to change crit­i­cal area al­lo­ca­tion

Also, cit­i­zen calls for re­view of new al­co­hol or­di­nance at wharf

The Enterprise - - News - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­ille@somd­ Twit­ter: @Tay­lorEn­tNews

To help bol­ster the town’s mas­ter de­vel­op­ment plan, the Leonard­town Coun­cil has sent a let­ter re­quest­ing the trans­fer­ence of crit­i­cal area growth al­lo­ca­tion from the St. Mary’s County com­mis­sion­ers to the town coun­cil.

Trans­fer­ring the growth al­lo­ca­tion re­serve would ef­fec­tively give the coun­cil more con­trol over de­vel­op­ment in crit­i­cal wa­ter­front ar­eas by al­low­ing site plans to be ap­proved by the town’s plan­ning and zon­ing coun­cil, rather than the St. Mary’s plan­ning com­mis­sion.

St. Mary’s County has had about 1,800 acres of crit­i­cal land area in its al­lo­ca­tion in­ven­tory for 30 years, and has de­vel­oped 10 per­cent of those ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Laschelle McKay, Leonard­town ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments are granted a growth al­lo­ca­tion con­sist­ing of 5 per­cent of that ju­ris­dic­tion’s re­source con­ser­va­tion area lands. Seek­ing to ac­quire 200 acres from the county’s al­lo­ca­tion re- serve, the coun­cil would “have more lever­age” in chang­ing the des­ig­na­tion of the parcels from re­source con­ser­va­tion ar­eas to ei­ther lim­ited de­vel­op­ment area or in­tensely de­vel­oped area, al­low­ing for more densely de­vel­oped area, McKay said.

“Not know­ing if the growth al­lo­ca­tion is gonna be avail­able to us for long range mas­ter plan­ning is gonna be im­pos­si­ble,” McKay said. “If we have to rely on the next board of county com­mis­sion­ers to see Leonard­town as a pri­or­ity, it’s gonna be hard to do our mas­ter plan.”

The county would “re­ceive the same tax ben­e­fit” it would if it re­tained con­trol over the 200 acres, McKay said.

In other ac­tion, the coun­cil heard from Charles Ray Reid IV, a Val­ley Lee res­i­dent, who ad­dressed the mem­bers about an amend­ment passed in May to an or­di­nance gov­ern­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion, which ef­fec­tively pro­hibits drink­ing on pub­lic prop­erty within the town, in­clud­ing mu­nic­i­pal parks, with­out a per­mit.

“I just want the wharf to go back to the way it was prior to this or­di­nance,” Reid said. “The wharf is specif­i­cally what is an is­sue to me,” not other mu­nic­i­pal parks, he added.

The amend­ment was passed, with­out a pub­lic hear­ing, to re­spond to the con­cern of the St. Mary’s sher­iff’s of­fice over “a few dis­tur­bances” in­volv­ing al­co­hol at the wharf, Leonard­town Mayor Dan- iel Bur­ris said in an in­ter­view. Since the amend­ment was passed, there have been no in­ci­dents, he added.

“We can’t judge the many by the very, very, very few,” Reid said.

The per­mit­ting process was put in place to cre­ate a reg­u­la­tory process for peo­ple who want to hold events at the wharf, Hay­den Ham­mett, a town com­mis­sioner, said. “It was to put the town in the driver’s seat of what hap­pens down there.”

In­di­vid­u­als who wish to drink on the wharf must ap­ply for a free per­mit at the Leonard­town gov­ern­ment build­ing. Reid con­demned the “du­plica­tive” na­ture of the or­di­nance, given that state laws al­ready ex­ist pro­hibit­ing drunk and dis­or­derly be­hav­ior in pub­lic, and driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence.

“I can­not smoke cig­a­rettes at the park at the wharf,” Reid said. “That’s good, be­cause I would be im­pact­ing the health and well-be­ing of the chil­dren and other var­i­ous peo­ple who come to en­joy the park. But if I want to drink a Bud­weiser, I don’t see why I’m hurt­ing any­one.”

Al­though Ham­mett of­fered to re­view the or­di­nance, Bur­ris did not an­tic­i­pate a change to it, but did say the coun­cil would “take it un­der ad­vise­ment.”

The coun­cil also dis­cussed pos­i­tive feed­back re­ceived from Ma­han Rykiel, a con­sul­tant hired to help the town de­velop its down­town plan, dur­ing the group’s visit to Leonard­town last week. A re­port de­tail­ing the firm’s find­ings is ex­pected in the next six to eight weeks.

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