Com­mis­sion re­view of com­pre­hen­sive plan con­tin­ues

Dunkirk as mi­nor town cen­ter resur­faces

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

The Calvert County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Sept. 19 con­ducted an ex­haus­tive re­view of the chap­ters on en­vi­ron­ment and nat­u­ral re­sources, water re­sources, and gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties of the sec­ond draft of the Calvert County Com­pre­hen­sive Plan up­date for 2040.

Sev­eral county gov­ern­ment depart­ment heads were in at­ten­dance to an­swer ques­tions as plan­ning and zon­ing staff walked through 57 pages of copy with the plan­ning board, which green-lighted mi­nor changes.

A few of the nearly 50 pub­lic com­ments on the sec­ond draft of the plan re­ceived through Aug. 31 and Sept. 10 were also dis­cussed. South­ern Mary­land Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive, Calvert County Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and Calvert County En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­mis­sion sub­mit­ted com­ments on the plan.

“How many com­ments about Dunkirk is not a ma­jor town cen­ter? I mean this is a re­cur­ring thing,” plan­ning mem­ber Carolyn McHugh said, dur­ing the re­view on en­vi­ron­ment and nat­u­ral re­sources. “Peo­ple have real heart­burn about this.”

One of many with heart­burn is Gary Graff of Dunkirk, who sent a Sept. 1 email to plan­ning and zon­ing ti­tled “No sewer in Dunkirk,” where he de­manded that Dunkirk re­main a mi­nor town cen­ter. Let­ter af­ter let­ter de­manded the same to in­clude no ex­pan­sion of town cen­ter bound­aries, no pub­lic sewer or water and no high-den­sity build­ing al­lowance.

“Whether we call an area a ma­jor town cen­ter or a mi­nor town cen­ter doesn’t stop them from mov­ing there,” Plan­ning and Zon­ing Di­rec­tor Mark Willis said.

Willis said the county’s process in­cludes look­ing at the square footage of busi­ness space within the seven town cen­ters. Prince Fred­er­ick leads all of the town cen­ters in busi­ness square footage at 2.26 mil­lion and Dunkirk is sec­ond at nearly 850,000 square feet.

“I can take three St. Leonards, I can take three Hunt­ing towns and I can take three Owingses and I can fit that busi­ness space into Dunkirk with about 50,000 square feet left over,” Willis said.

Willis said while Dunkirk does not have a li­brary or school, it does have pri­vately in­stalled sewer that sup­ports the pub­lic.

He said he has been chal­lenged for that state­ment “like I am se­cretly plan­ning water and sewer for Dunkirk. My point is it is al­ready hap­pen­ing … de­vel­op­ers are plan­ning it. The county’s not plan­ning it.”

Willis said there are two pack­age plants that are water treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties built by de­vel­op­ers to serve a com­mer­cial base.

He ac­knowl­edged cit­i­zens’ fears that im­ple­men­ta­tion of pub­lic water and sewer will draw growth and the con­cerns can be ad­dressed in the Calvert County Zon­ing Or­di­nance or the Dunkirk Town Cen­ter Mas­ter Plan by not al­low­ing it.

“I don’t know how you stop what is al­ready started,” Willis said.

Plan­ing Com­mis­sion Vice Chair­man Steve Jones said if the county has no in­tent of tak­ing water and sewer to Dunkirk then he does not care if they call it a ma­jor or mi­nor town cen­ter, to make cit­i­zens feel bet­ter. County long-range plan­ner Jenny Plum­mer-Welker said the nam­ing can be ad­dressed dur­ing the land use dis­cus­sion next month.

In the chap­ter’s sec­tion dis­cus­sion on steep slopes and cliffs, plan­ning com­mis­sion mem­ber Robert Reed asked whether a re­port, from the steer­ing com­mit­tee formed in 2010 to con­duct a study on shore­line ero­sion and homes, had any ground­break­ing reve­la­tions in it.

“The rev­e­la­tion is that we fi­nally woke up and [re­al­ized] we were do­ing it to our­selves,” Willis said, of the need to not build homes so close to cliffs.

Willis said the re­port speaks to soil com­po­si­tion, the need for set­backs, re­for­esta­tion or re-grass­ing of those ar­eas. Willis said the so­lu­tion is more strict zon­ing along with the com­pre­hen­sive plan to min­i­mize the county’s need for state and fed­eral emer­gency re­sources.

Based on feed­back from the Calvert County En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­mis­sion, the plan­ning board agreed to word­smithing and sev­eral mi­nor ed­its to the chap­ter ded­i­cated to a wide range of is­sues re­lated to qual­ity of life, sus­tain­abil­ity, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and re­source con­ser­va­tion.

SMECO sub­mit­ted in writ­ing its pub­lic util­ity ease­ment con­cerns in hopes they would be con­sid­ered in the re­write of the Calvert County Com­pre­hen­sive Plan and Zon­ing Or­di­nance. The ease­ments are prop­erty des­ig­na­tions al­low­ing util­ity com­pa­nies ac­cess to sewer, elec­tri­cal or ca­ble re­sources, typ­i­cally for re­pair or main­te­nance.

The util­ity com­pany’s con­cerns were raised by McHugh dur­ing the re­view of the chap­ter on pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, and were born out of changes in the county’s zon­ing or­di­nance al­low­ing lot min­i­miza­tion, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the state-man­dated stormwa­ter man­age­ment en­vi­ron­men­tal site de­sign, and county-de­sired in­fra­struc­ture, all of which SMECO says has led to im­pacts to the re­quired ease­ments.

The new stormwa­ter guide­lines re­quire de­vel­op­ers to min­i­mize im­per­vi­ous ar­eas to pro­vide less of an im­pact, ac­cord­ing to Keith Ul­rich, SMECO project co­or­di­na­tor for en­gi­neer­ing, in a Septem­ber 2016 let­ter to plan­ning and zon­ing. When stormwa­ter man­age­ment de­vices are im­ple­mented, road­way sec­tions gen­er­ally widen. “This rou­tinely ex­tends the over­all sec­tion be­yond the road right of way, and this then over­laps with the” ease­ment, he wrote.

In the let­ter, SMECO made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions to im­ple­ment guide­lines into the com­pre­hen­sive plan and plac­ing zon­ing or­di­nance re­stric­tions to al­low only the use of the ease­ments for the pub­lic util­ity in­fra­struc­ture, and also re­quested these con­cerns be a con­sid­er­a­tion for the cur­rent and fu­ture town cen­ter mas­ter plans and zon­ing or­di­nances.

“The ac­tual specifics on set­backs and such would be more ap­pro­pri­ate to be ad­dressed in the zon­ing or­di­nance,” Plum­mer-Welker said.

Next month, the draft plan’s chap­ter on trans­porta­tion, as well as ta­bles, acronynms, ac­knowl­edg­ments and the ap­pen­dix, will be dis­cussed. The chap­ter on land use was de­ferred un­til the plan­ning board’s No­vem­ber meet­ing at Calvert Pines Se­nior Cen­ter.

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