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The purpose of the tier map that I recommended to the Charles County commissioners at their Jan. 8 public hearing is to provide them with the most accurate possible tier designations for the Newburg-Cliffton-Aqua Land area, based on the most authoritative sources of adopted county policy, consistent with the state’s guidance for implementing the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, Senate Bill 236.

The county’s tier map will be based on the current Charles County Comprehensive Plan, including the county’s comprehensive water and sewer plan.

The current water and sewer plan includes amendments that were adopted in 2010 by the county commissioners and approved by the Maryland departments of the environment and planning. The designated Priority Funding Area for this part of the county is also relevant, showing where the county and the state anticipated future infrastructure investment.

All of these sources provide the policy foundation for the adoption of the county’s tier map.

After a careful and thorough analysis of adopted county policy, it is clear that the tier designations in this small but important area of Charles County, from Pope’s Creek Road south to the Morgantown power plant, and from the Potomac River east to U.S. 301, should be shown on the final tier map in either Tier I or Tier II, depending on whether sewer service already exists or is planned in the future.

In addition to being accurate, the tier designations I have recommended for this area would help to ensure that a decades-old environmental problem, the substandard and failing Cliffton wastewater treatment plant, will be replaced, upgraded and expanded — with funding provided by the private sector instead of the county.

The new sewage treatment plant would deliver a net improvement in environmental quality, using enhanced nutrient removal technology.

The increased capacity that would become available through the expansion of the Cliffton wastewater treatment plant would help ignite the redevelopment of Aqua Land, which the county has identified as a prime waterfront economic development “target of opportunity” on U.S. 301 at Maryland’s Potomac River gateway.

The recommendation of an accurate tier map for this area has nothing whatsoever to do with building affordable housing on county-owned lots in Cliffton, an idea that was soundly rejected years ago by the community.

A new sewage treatment system and associated infrastructure improvements, however, would provide an opportunity to replace septic systems and enhance property values in the area, including the value of the county-owned lots.

All of the above information was provided in my testimony Jan. 8 and is now part of the public record of the hearing.

It is unfortunate that the newspaper chose to stir the ashes of an extinct controversy instead of providing the facts and context for the commissioners’ upcoming decision.

Adopting the tier map that I have recommended for this area simply acknowledges county plans and policies that are already on the books.



Gary V. Hodge, White Plains

The writer is the president of Regional Policy Advisors and a former Charles County commissioner.