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County considering an increase in board of appeals' members

The Calvert County Board of Appeals could be expanded if the commissioners approve a proposal to add two new members.

During their Tuesday regular meeting, the commissioners voted 4-1 to schedule a public hearing on the matter.

Commissioner Earl “Buddy” Hance (R) voted no, and said that one of the board of appeals members contacted him and was not happy because the proposal “was sprung on them last week.” Hance added that, in its history, the board has had "no issue of bad decisions or lack of attendance."

During the meeting, planning director Mary Beth Cook said the board was contacted about the proposal, but staff had yet to receive feedback from them.

Commissioner Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins (R) said that adding two members to the board would give a “broader view.”

The proposal, if approved, would have a fiscal impact of $12,000 per year, as members are paid $500 per meeting. The board typically meets once a month.

Hance later said the additional spending would be a "total waste of money." 

Land donation

In other news, the commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on the proposed donation of a 15,000-square-foot parcel located at 6033 Daybreak Drive. The land, which is located west of Seagull Beach Road south of Route 231, would be used to build a single-family home for a low-to-moderate-income military veteran. The land is valued at $109,700.

Erosion control project

The commissioners approved a contract with the state for a 20-year $500,000 no-interest loan to develop an erosion control project to protect the severely-eroding south shoreline at Breezy Point Beach.

The project — which is included in the county’s current year and future capital improvement plans — is estimated to cost $2 million.

Dead goats

The commissioners voted to review an investigative report about eight goats that were allegedly killed or injured by stray dogs on Jan. 8.

According to a report by Crystal Dowd, director of animal services, five goats were killed and three injured.

Their owners — William Kreamer and Caitlin Smith — are requesting $1,576 for reimbursement for the goats. If approved, the request would be paid for by animal license fees. The Animal Control Division’s animal license fee fund currently has $8,042, according to Dowd.

Legislative update

The commissioners heard a report from the Maryland Association of Counties about bills that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) allowed to become law without his signature or vetoed.

Hogan vetoed the Kirwan Blueprint bill, HB 1300.

According to a MACo report, the organization was able to reduce or delay county obligations by billions of dollars, but Democrats have the votes to override the veto is they stick together. Even if overridden, the first year of funding could be nullified by less revenue because of the impact of COVID-19.

Hogan also vetoed a bill that would apply the state’s sales tax to downloaded media and streaming services.

Hogan allowed the Built to Learn Act to become law without his signature. The law leverages casino revenues to fast-track building of public schools, with over $2 billion in state revenue bonds expected to “clear the deck” of ready-to-go projects. An amendment made its enactment contingent on the Kirwan bill’s enactment, so the bill is currently in limbo.

Emergency declaration

Hance apologized to county residents for any confusion after the commissioners held a special meeting May 14 to continue the “state of emergency” another 30 days because of COVID-19. The county originally declared an emergency on March 17 and extended it in April.

On Facebook, some expressed belief that the commissioners’ vote meant that the county was not entering Phase I of Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery plan that he announced on May 13. Businesses that were previously closed were allowed to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, May 15.

Calvert did not delay the reopening, although several more populated counties did, including Charles County, in a 3-2 vote by its commissioners.

Twitter: @CalRecCALEB