The Calvert County commissioners held a second staff work session Tuesday to further refine the planning commission’s recommended draft of the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan update for 2040.
The goal of the meeting was to reach consensus on what they want the final document to reflect.
The board pondered town center boundary expansions proposed by the planning commission and agreed to extend Dunkirk Town Center contrary to the planning commission’s recommendation not to do so. The board was deadlocked on a proposal to revisit a plan to extend Huntingtown Town Center beyond the high school.
On May 14, the commission held a work session to discuss concerns voiced by citizens at an April 30 hearing. On Tuesday, the commissioners picked up where they left off, discussing possible expansions for Dunkirk, which were not in the recommended plan.
“There are two-parcels there that ought to be considered by the board,” Commissioners’ President Thomas “Tim” Hutchins (R) said, referring to Dunkirk District Park and the Dunkirk Park and Ride.
Hutchins desired their inclusion into the town center so they would be eligible for state funding for improvements as a priority funding area. There was a consensus among all five members of the BOCC.
Town centers are designated as PFAs, allowing them to receive state-directed funds through Maryland Department of Planning to support economic development. County Department of Planning and Zoning director Mark Willis said even though the parcels may be incorporated into the town center, the county will still have to apply for their inclusion into the PFA.
Commissioners’ Vice President Kelly McConkey (R) asked about the possible inclusion of the new Ward Farm Recreation and Nature Park so it, too, could receive PFA funds.
“The funding for parks comes from Program Open Space, not Maryland Department of Planning,” County long-range planner Jenny Plummer-Welker said, noting that Program Open Space funding for acquisition and development is not contingent upon whether a project has the PFA designation.
On Tuesday, the commissioners revisited a 2017 proposal that would have expanded Huntingtown town center boundaries that was eventually tabled by the planning commission after they received numerous citizen complaints. The planning board instead opted for what is proposed in the December 2018 recommended plan, which only incorporates Huntingtown High School into the town center.
The 2017 proposal includes the expansion of Huntingtown’s boundary across Route 2/4 down to Cox Road, as well as incorporate the high school, a few rural community properties and property on the southeast corner that has a concept for a church.
Commissioner Steve Weems (R) expressed support for the 2018 recommendation that only incorporated the high school into the town center. Hutchins and Commissioner Mike Hart (R) expressed support for the 2017 recommendation which includes expansion beyond the high school to Cox Road, to which McConkey nodded in agreement.
McConkey owns two properties within the 2017 proposed expansion that are now up for reconsideration and he would benefit from greater land development opportunities and a potential increase to the value of his land.
McConkey did not speak on the matter during the work session, though he did enquire about the status of the 100-foot, no-cut, no-clear buffer in the northern part of Huntingtown.
The Calvert Recorder reached out to McConkey regarding the properties he currently owns within the 2017 proposed expansion for Huntingtown Town Center up for reconsideration.
McConkey responded in an email that he couldn’t discuss the comp plan because they were still in discussions.
The Recorder also reached out to County Attorney John Norris to determine if there was a procedural requirement for McConkey to disclose during the meeting that he owned property in the area, or if the commissioners’ vice president has an obligation to recuse himself regardless of the outcome.
In an email, Norris wrote that the “commissioner and his wife own two parcels at and near the intersection of Cox Rd and Rt. 4. These parcels are part of the Huntingtown Town Center under the 2017 Draft.”
Norris said he did not notice McConkey participating in the discussion regarding Huntingtown.
Norris directed The Recorder to the county code, which states that “... all 5 Commissioners live in the County and will be impacted, directly or indirectly, by a decision on the Comp. Plan; and the Board is required by State law to adopt a Comp. Plan.” Section 41-13 (A)(2) allows board participation upon disclosure of interest with the Ethics Commission.
The Recorder also reached out to planning and zoning staff to determine the impetus for the 2017 proposed boundaries being revisited in the comprehensive plan, contrary to the recommended plan.
Plummer-Welker informed The Recorder that Hart asked that the 2017 draft plan’s proposed expansion of Huntingtown to south of Cox Road be reconsidered.
Both Willis and Plummer-Welker said the board can decide to expand the Huntingtown town center boundary, as stipulated in the legal ad for the BOCC’s April 30 public hearing.
The board did not reach a consensus on the expansion on Tuesday, but agreed to revisit the issue in a subsequent work session.
The board did reach consensus on expanding Owings town center and St. Leonard town center as proposed in the December 2018 recommended plan. They also agreed to expand Prince Frederick town center in two phases as proposed in the recommended plan.
There was consensus among the BOCC to improve the plan’s language to retain some distinction/buffer between Lusby and Solomons.
The board also discussed preservation, water and sewer resources, and adequate public facilities regulations.