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Hundreds convene to express disapproval of Calvert Comprehensive Plan

Prince Frederick, MD – Hundreds piled into the Calvert Pines Senior Center Tuesday night in overwhelming opposition of the Calvert County Commissioner’s proposed comprehensive plan.

Sixty of the approximately 370 citizens present spoke at the over two-hour long affair. A healthy majority expressed their concerns, often echoing those over the removal of town center designations and expansion.

“I think we all can agree that one Waldorf in Southern Maryland is enough,” was uttered to hoots and hollers by the crowd which spilled out into the hall. Cal Steuart, Vice Chairman to the Calvert County Republican Central Committee (CCRCC), was not the only speaker to illicit an electric response from the crowd.

Commissioner President Tim Hutchins [R-district 2] explained after the hearing adjourned there was “a lot of good input” from the speakers but expressed concern that they “largely missed” on the removal of major and minor town designations. He stated that the distinction is “discriminatory in its nature” and “arbitrary in its application.” Going on to explain it, “discriminates in terms of age, income, and, consequently, in terms of race.”

The commissioner president stated that he was going to follow up on “the town center plans being superseded by the comprehensive plan,” language in the motion for the plan he made a note of after one the speakers expressed their concern over its wording.

Aside from concerns over rapid growth in the county, another common concern expressed was over the potential conflict of interest for Commissioner Vice President Kelly McConkey [R-district 3] who owns a business that would be encompassed by the proposed expansion of Huntingtown.

One of the night’s speakers, Chris Gadway, went so far as to ask the commissioner to “resign” and “come to this side of the microphone to speak” if he wanted an opinion on the matter.

McConkey expressed to TheBayNet previously that the expansion of the Huntingtown town center would not be of monetary benefit to him, a point he echoed after Tuesday night’s meeting when the commissioner stated that the plan will not “change the value of a piece of property,” explaining that that lies in the “zoning process.”

McConkey explained that he believes the “self-interests” of the leaders opposing the plan are influencing the citizens that have become vocal.

He called out a few of his major detractors directly, stating that “Mike King” paid for a mailing that went out against the commissioner recently but has sold town center property to developers himself and is concerned a new shopping center would take businesses away from his “outdated” one that houses the Radioshack and Smoothie King.

In addition to King, McConkey stated that Susie Hance-Wells, who spoke out against him, “sold $1.3 million worth of TDR’s [Transfer of Development Rights] to a developer who built hundreds of houses,” showing hypocrisy in her criticism.

The commissioner vice president finished, asserting, “Four years from now tell me what has been built under my watch in this county. In four years, there won’t be anything else and everything currently being built was approved years ago.”

The hearing’s few detractors spoke out – often to boos and grumbles – against the “fear-mongering” by those opposed to the draft plan. On multiple occasions Commissioner President Tim Hutchins was forced to calm the crowd, urging for “decorum” and “civility.”

At one point Commissioner Mike Hart [R-district 1] stood at the center of the room to quell the mob after Dunkirk resident Richard Logan stated he was a Republican that “didn’t see a lot of friends [at the hearing],” going on to state he believed that “a minority is being represented in the majority here tonight.”

The July 2019 draft of the plan is the fourth and most recent of a process that began in 2015. Calvert, along with the rest of the state, is required to “ensure the implementation of the visions, the development regulations element, and the sensitive areas element” of their comprehensive plan.

The board has largely been split on matters concerning the plan with Commissioners Hutchins, McConkey, and Hart voting to move the proposal forward and Commissioners Earl “Buddy” Hance [R-At Large] and Steve Weems [R-At Large], voting against.

The commissioners extended the public record on the plan through Wednesday, July 24. Public comment can be submitted here.

Contact Jerold at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.

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