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A text amendment requiring parking spaces to be provided for all uses on a property, which created some tension among the commissioners, has been deferred until county parking use charts have been reviewed.

During a work session Nov. 13, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners reviewed two text amendments to the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance.

The amendment which caused a stir among the commissioners requires that parking spaces be provided for all uses on the property — not just the primary use.

The board voted 3-2 to defer action on the amendment until the parking use charts are reviewed. Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) and Commissioners’ Vice President Steve Weems (R) opposed the motion.

Currently, the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance does not specify that parking be provided for all uses, including accessory uses, on a property.

“Why are we regulating down to what somebody uses their home for?” asked Commissioner Susan Shaw (R).

Shaw said she could not support the amendment because of the word “all,” adding that the larger issue is whether the county is overregulating.

If it has been policy since 1974, “Why did we not require additional parking for day cares until two years ago?” Shaw asked.

Department of Community Planning and Building Director Chuck Johnston agreed with Shaw’s suggestion of reviewing the parking use charts to see which uses don’t need to be regulated.

“We’re solving a problem that doesn’t exist,” Shaw said.

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) said, based off the explanation for the text amendment, the current procedure is “outside” of policy.

“There are those within the department working outside the law,” he said, telling Johnston that it is “not inherent within just your department.

“I’m not sure that this is an isolated incident, and that’s a concern,” he said.

However, Clark rebutted, “You claim that staff was interpreting wrong and implementing it incorrectly.”

He explained that he has requested information on why things have changed “abruptly with no notice” on several occasions, but hasn’t received that information.

“But, I am not under the impression that staff’s interpretation [of the current policy] is wrong.

“To continually ... beat on staff ... is not right,” Clark said.

Shaw concluded the commissioners discussion, saying, “It needs to not be personal or who did right. If we just reference the ordinance ... it’s that simple.”

After the motion to defer action until the parking use charts are reviewed, Clark said, “I think we just opened the door for a whole lot of problems.”

The other text amendment, which replaces the maximum per parcel building size of 25,000 square feet for retail commercial buildings in rural commercial zoning with a maximum building size on a floor ratio of 0.2, was unanimously approved to be sent to the Calvert County Planning Commission for a work session.

Slaughenhoupt brought up the only concern with the floor area ratio amendment: why the mean of the existing floor area ratio of buildings in the zoning district — 0.19 — was used to determine the criteria, rather than the average — 0.25.

Mary Beth Cook, the Department of Community Planning and Building deputy director and policy division chief, said that the department looked at neighboring counties and 0.2 was used “most often.”

Johnston said the mean was more accurate than the average based on mathematical principles. He added that in the county’s comprehensive plan, there is an objective to “minimize” commercial growth.

Clark assured Slaughenhoupt that the 0.2 floor area ratio “doubles” what the business community has now.

CRE’s STD amended to allow more funding for side roads

The board unanimously approved an amendment to the Chesapeake Ranch Estates’ special tax district agreement that would remove the annual $200,000 spending limit to improve side roads.

In the February 2008 agreement, three programs were set up: an arterial roads improvement program, a collector roads improvement program and a side roads improvement program.

In that original agreement, there is a $200,000 limit on the annual sum allocated to the side roads improvement program for the maintenance and improved drainage of side roads.

The amendment states that the Property Owners’ Association of CRE’s Board of Directors determined that the “bulk of the drainage and roadway maintenance and repair issues which need immediate attention are located on the side roads.”

The amendment also states that the POACRE board of directors determined the arterial and collector roads, which receive most of the STD funding, are in “reasonably good condition and will only require periodic overlays and minor drainage improvements.”

In addition to the removal of the annual sum allocated for side road improvements, the amendment allows STD revenue to be applied to additional side roads, which are set to be included in the agreement.

For a full list of the side roads included, check the memo from County Attorney John Norris III on the BOCC’s Nov. 13 agenda, at www.co.cal.md.us.

aharrison@somdnews.com