- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Rich Hall wrote the Charles County commissioners Thursday recommending the board reconsider their placement earlier this month 9,000 acres of Mattawoman Creek watershed placed in a planned sewer area on the county’s adopted septic tiers map.
In his letter, Hall called the plan “a significant improvement” over the map drawn by the pro-growth Balanced Growth Initiative and approved by the Charles County Planning Commission in November 2012, but he wrote that the 9,000-acre tract was unnecessary to meet the county’s growth projections and potentially would harm the Mattawoman.
The commissioners voted 3-2 on March 11 to reject a tier map proposed by the six-member work group they appointed in January to complete the task, and instead passed a version shifting half of the 18,000-acre deferred development district spanning Waldorf and Bryans Road into the tier reserved for future sewer areas.
A 2012 state law required counties to adopt maps showing where future residential growth on septic systems will be allowed.
Hall noted in his letter that the county has more than twice the land zoned for development needed to meet its growth needs by 2040. More than 62,000 acres are mapped with current or future sewer areas on the approved plan, more than that total area of either Washington, D.C., or Baltimore, both of which have populations more than four times that of Charles County, he wrote.
“We recommend the county revisit the Tier 2 area they added to the map on the night of adoption,” Hall wrote. “This option was not considered by the Workgroup and is not needed to meet projected growth demand.”
The county must hold a public hearing on MDP’s comments within 60 days.
In addition, “The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has significant concerns that extensive development within the Mattawoman Creek Watershed will irreparably harm this water body, which supports a diverse, high-quality aquatic ecosystem,” Hall wrote. Ninety-three percent of the 9,000 acres is located within the watershed.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D), who voted against the approved map alongside board President Candice Quinn Kelly (D), said last week that he hoped MDP would protest the plan and was happy to receive Hall’s letter.
“It was what I was hoping for. I think it was the right thing for the state to do,” he said. “The Mattwoman watershed is hallowed ground and shouldn’t be considered for development.”
Robinson said he expects the public hearing on the letter to be even more crowded than the October hearing on the draft comprehensive plan, which drew 300 people and where opponents tripled supporters.
“For our citizens, I’m afraid its going to be déjà vu, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ all rolled into one,” he said.