Calvert County Times September 07, 2017 - Page 3

Thursday, September 7, 2017 Tweaking the Plan to Make the Town Centers Work By Dick Myers Editor No votes were taken. But, the Cal- vert County Planning Commission at their Aug. 30 meeting appeared to be reaching a consensus about how to achieve the goal of directing growth to the town centers and away from the rural areas of the county. The deci- sions will be part of the update of the county Comprehensive Plan and Zon- ing Ordinance. Whatever decisions are fi nally reached will then go to pub- lic hearings. So far, the commission has decided to limit the number of town centers to four: Dunkirk, Prince Frederick, Lusby and Solomons. Owings, Hun- tingtown and St. Leonard have been downgraded to smaller-scale villages. The towns of North Beach and Chesa- peake Beach have their own planning and are not included in the discussion. The current plan has a one-mile ra- dius around town centers targeted for more intense development than in the rural areas, but less dense than the town centers. The proposal from the consultants working on the update changes that to an area that isn’t ex- actly concentric but instead follows property boundaries. The discussion at the Aug. 30 meet- ing was how to steer development into the town centers and that suburban residential area next to them. Consul- tant Jacquelyn Seneschal of WSP USA asked the planners if they felt “the by- right residential density in Town Cen- ters (should) be increased to attract more development.” Now, the by-right density in town centers is one unit per acre and that can be increased to four per acre with TDR’s (transfer of development rights) and to 14 units per acre with central water and sewer. But Director of Plan- ning and Zoning Mark Willis pointed out that extending water and sewer service is expensive for developers. “Maybe developers should be subsi- dized,” he said. The commission members seemed to be inclined to go along with Sene- schal’s suggestion to allow developers to have a right to four units per acre in the town centers, which would lower the overall cost to developers because they wouldn’t have to pay for develop- ment rights. At the close of the meeting, Com- mission Chairperson Carolyn McHugh allowed questions from the audience. Former county commissioner Susan Local News The Calvert County Times Shaw questioned changing the TDR requirements, which were lessened during her term. She said it hadn’t been given enough time to have a chance to work. Shaw said if developers can cheaply do four units per acre, there would be no incentive to do denser multi-family development, which really is the goal of the town centers. The county’s population has leveled off. Current projections from the state have the county adding 5,760 new households by 2040. There is room for 8,700 to as many as 15,000 new homes depending on how the plan update process evolves. Willis insists the plan’s goal is not to increase population, but to readjust where it will go to preserve farmland and the county’s rural character. The 800-pound gorilla in the room may be Dunkirk, which is the only town center without central water and sewer (except for some private systems). In a report prepared for the Economic Development Department, noted economist Anirban Basu said Dunkirk offered the best opportu- nity for town center development. Yet many in Dunkirk are resolute against any new dense residential develop- ment there. Planning Commission member Dr. Richard Holler noted that the county’s economic development effort was hitched to tourism and the hospital- ity industry. But he asked, “Where do people who work in the hospital- ity industry live?’, underscoring the need for more town center residential development. The existing sewer and water sys- tems in the town centers also have limited capacity and planning is under way for expansion. “The county is go- ing to have to think creatively about how to get water and sewer on the ground,” Seneschal said. The pl anners also seemed inclined to remove the allowance for the trans- ferring of development rights within the rural areas. They also seemed in- clined to allow more by-right growth in that residential area just outside the town centers. Getting the general feelings of the planning commission, Seneschal said she would commit everything to writ- ing and bring it back to them some- time in the future. dickmyers@countytines.net 3 You Are Cordially Invited to the All Saints Parish 325 th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration Saturday, September 9 11am - 5pm Join All Saints Parish as we celebrate 325 years of faith: where we have been, where we are now and where we are going. Th ere will be food (12-2pm), tours, story-telling, and a little history, sprinkled in. Th e highlight will be the photos, artifacts, heirlooms and stories of the families who have helped to build and sustain this parish. Th e fun takes place at All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland, MD. Come when you can. Th e day will end with a community service of evening prayer in the historic brick church on the hill. We hope to see you there! For more information or to RSVP, call the church offi ce at 410-257-6306 or email allsaints325@gmail.com. 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