The Calvert County Department of Planning and Zoning is ready to start the lengthy process of updating the town center master plan for Prince Frederick.
During its October meeting, the county planning commission gave the go-ahead for beginning the update of both the master plan and zoning regulations for Prince Frederick.
“The town centers master plans update is proposed to be a three-phased process — issue identification, plan development and plan adoption,” said Jenny Plummer-Welker, long-range planner for the department. “Staff would engage residential, business and civic groups in the update process.”
Plummer-Welker, who added that the “faith community” would also be involved in the issue identification phase, that a “liaison” for each of the stakeholder groups would be selected. “It’s not a steering committee, it’s not an advisory group,” Plummer-Welker said.
“So, we’re attacking the biggest bear first?” Planning commission member Michael “Trent” Wolfersberger asked. “Are we anticipating it will take longer?”
Plummer-Welker said, “I don’t think we’ll actually know until we get into it.”
The second phase involving the development of the revised master plan involves staff preparing the initial draft plan for community review and presenting the draft plan to the public. “After receiving comments from the public, staff will prepare a second draft for review by the planning commission,” Plummer-Welker said. After the review by the planning commission, revisions will be made. Then, the planning commission will vote to recommend the plan for a public hearing and distribution to agencies for review, providing at least 60 days for agency review prior to the public hearing.
The adoption process begins when the planning commission’s recommended plan is distributed for comment. The public is provided the opportunity to submit written comments in addition to providing oral comments at the public hearing. The planning commission may hold the record open for additional written comments.
The planning commission considers comments, and if they choose to revise the plan, Plummer-Welker explained. Then the planning commission votes to approve the plan and recommend its adoption to the county commissioners.
The commissioners will decide whether to adopt, modify, remand, or disapprove the plan.
If the board decides to adopt or modify the plan, it must hold a public hearing prior to doing so.
“The board of county commissioners would then conduct its own public comment period and public hearing prior to voting on the plan’s adoption,” Plummer-Welker stated.
Other town center plans to follow are Dunkirk (spring of 2020), Lusby (fall of 2020), Solomons (spring of 2021), Owings (fall of 2021), Huntingtown (spring of 2022) and St. Leonard (fall of 2022).
In a memo to the planning commission, Plummer-Welker noted “the development many long-range plans” will keep planners busy for the next few years. “These plans range from small area plans, like the town center master plans, and function plans, such as the Calvert County Land Preservation and Parks and Recreation Plan.
Proposed tweak to site plan approval process
The planning commission unanimously approved forwarding proposed text amendment to the Calvert County zoning ordinance to several board, agencies and commissions for comments. The proposed tweaks to four articles in the ordinance would affect the site plan approval process, changing a conceptual site plan review from optional to mandatory.
Britany J. Waddell, a deputy director of planning and zoning, explained in a memo to the planning commission that her department has been working with county public works “to better incorporate the three-step stormwater management state review into the current site plan review process.”
The proposal, according to Waddell, has gotten an OK to move forward from the county commissioners after two work sessions.
Wolfersberger asked Waddell if it was being done due to an “anticipated change in workload.” Waddell responded that the department is not anticipating any need for additional staff or funding but is seeking to streamline the process and work out major issues “on the front end.”
Waddell added that “there would be a savings to the developer” who would not need to engage an engineer in several revisions.
“It’s working now,” said Carolyn Sunderland, planning commission administrator of the conceptual site plan review. “The developers do spend the extra money to have a concept plan submitted. More and more are going to the formal process. They want it in writing, and they want a more detailed review.”