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The public will have a chance to comment Monday to the St. Mary’s County Planning Commission on the long-term growth plan for the Lexington Park Development District, which includes almost 17,000 acres.

The public hearing will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Bay District volunteer firehouse in Lexington Park.

“Tell us what will work, tell us what you’d like to see,” Jeff Jackman, senior planner with the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management, said. “It is the heart of our county. It’s on the fringe of our major employer” at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “It deserves to have something decent made of it,” he said.

In 2010, there were 35,582 people living within the development district, which includes Lexington Park, Great Mills and California. By 2030, the population of the area is expected to be 60,000, according to state planners.

“It’s a vision for the future,” Jackman said of the plan.

The plan envisions connecting neighborhood roads, completing FDR Boulevard from California to Lexington Park and revitalizing the Great Mills Road corridor, which feeds to Gate 2 of Pax River.

The plan also calls for removing more than 3,000 acres from the development district. In those areas, neighbors had either previously rejected new projects, or there are environmental constraints to development.

Myrtle Point Park, which encompasses 192 acres on the Patuxent River, and the areas along Route 4 from the Route 235 intersection toward the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge would be removed, while existing neighborhoods would keep their development rights. Another large section that would come out is on the north side of Route 5 between Great Mills Road and Willows Road.

St. Mary’s County government hosted three open houses on the updated plan, where planners heard questions and comments. At each meeting, about 30 people attended, excluding staff.

“They think this is dictating what is going to happen,” said Phil Shire, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management. “It’s a starting point — the staff’s ideas of what could happen.”

The planning commission will work on the plan after the public hearing before it moves to the county commissioners’ table.

Some have asked why has growth continued to track north up Route 235 from Lexington Park into California. “It was zoned for that,” Shire said. “We can’t prevent it. It was all market driven.”

Lexington Park has the most permissive zoning in the county, but the market preference has been in California.

Shire said there is now interest from car dealerships on Great Mills Road to move farther north up Route 235.

And the migration is not just happening to Lexington Park, Jackman said. Growth has moved north of Leonardtown as well, he said.

Some have asked how Great Mills Road can be beautified. The Maryland State Highway Administration already streetscaped the road to make it more pedestrian friendly and to improve traffic flow.

The Great Mills Road corridor could become host to office space for Navy base workers, Jackman said. “That is a way the downtown could redefine itself,” he said. “We don’t have today the amenities” that young professionals would like.

“We attract the technical minded,” Shire said. It is those people who could bring new ideas on what to bring to the corridor, he said.

Jackman lives in the Patuxent Park neighborhood, which was started in 1947, four years after the base opened. “I live in this neighborhood. I love that neighborhood. This is the only walkable neighborhood in the whole county,” he said, noting that residents can walk to businesses, institutions, jobs and parks.



If you go

The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft update of the Lexington Park Development District growth plan on Monday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department at 46900 South Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park. A draft of the plan can be viewed online at www.stmarysmd.com/docs/LPDDstaffdraft0713.pdf. The draft plan can also be viewed at the three St. Mary’s County libraries and at the St. Mary’s County Public Information Office, located inside the Chesapeake Building in Leonardtown. For more information call 301-475-4200, ext. 1541.

jbabcock@somdnews.com