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Calvert passes Comp Plan on split vote

Prince Frederick, MD – The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners adopted the 2019 Comprehensive Plan by a vote of 3-2 after adding multiple amendments during their Tuesday meeting.

The vote mirrored past votes on the plan, with Commissioner President Tim Hutchins [R-district 2], Vice President Kelly McConkey [R-district 3], and Commissioner Mike Hart [R-district 1] voting in favor of the comprehensive plan and commissioners Earl “Buddy” Hance [R-at large] and Steve Weems [R-at large] dissenting.

The commissioners voted ten times before the adoption of the plan, approving nine amendments and electing for Option B of the expansion of Huntingtown.

The vote comes two weeks after commissioners sat in front of hundreds of citizens at Calvert Pines Senior Center, hearing sixty speakers who primarily expressed their discontent towards the then proposed plan. Joining the hundreds of citizens in opposition of the plan were commissioners Hance and Weems. Both have consistently opposed specific parts of the plan and voted against its adoption Tuesday.

Hance expressed his main issue around the expansion and elimination of major and minor distinctions of town centers during the meeting. He expressed that he felt the plan takes away local ability to “decide what their town centers look like.” In an interview later that day, Hance acknowledged that the plan itself does not change much by expanding the town centers but explained his concern of “laying the groundwork” for rezoning and development.

During the meeting, Hance explained that he doesn’t believe Prince Frederick will ever look like Waldorf, in terms of population, but explained a recent transportation study projects that Prince Frederick will see “55,000 cars a day” versus “50,000” in Waldorf come 2040. The Waldorf analogy has been one used many times by those opposed to the plan, coming up everywhere from Facebook to the public hearings themselves. To Hance, the data received “at the first transportation meeting in April” paints a picture of Prince Frederick “look[ing] like Waldorf from a transportation perspective.”

The at-large commissioner additionally expressed his concern of the town centers losing their individuality as a consequence of removing the major and minor designations. Hutchins reiterated his stance, having been a big proponent for the removal of major and minor town center designations throughout the process, stating previously that they were “discriminatory in nature and arbitrary in application.”

The ten additions to the plan Tuesday morning included two initiatives pushed for by Hance that he feels “reinforced what we’re already doing” and ultimately having “minor” impact on the plan as a whole, the addition of language opposing a Chesapeake Bay crossing in the county is an example of this. “It’s just like legislation in Annapolis, I knew the plan was going to, where the votes were, but your job is to try to get pieces in there that you think will be helpful… You get in there what you can and do what you can do.”

After the plan passed, Commissioner President Hutchins addressed the public, stating that it has been “a lot of strain on everyone” over “many” years. Adding, “We appreciate [the work on the plan], we heard you [the public] and we did the best we could to adopt [the plan] to fit the outlook we saw for the next 20 years.”

Before the meeting ended, during the public comment section, Myra Gowans stood in front of the microphone, expressing her discontent towards the plan. She stated that the board failed to represent the desires of the citizens. Gowans additionally asserted that the board had “bought [themselves] a lawsuit today.”

Hutchins finished his closing on the comprehensive plan stating that the county’s next steps are on the town master plans and zoning that will be addressed in the coming months.

The Calvert County Comprehensive Plan can be viewed here.

Contact Jerold Massie at staffwritier@thebaynet.com.

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