Advertisement

Commission wants comprehensive plan adopted

April 02, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Planning Commission Monday voted unanimously to recommend that the Washington County Commissioners adopt a proposed draft to the Washington County Comprehensive Plan.

The plan, which lays the groundwork for the county's development over the next 20 years, includes changes in density requirements for some properties.

The draft was released May 15, 2001. The county held 18 town hall meetings to get responses to more than 150 recommended changes to the plan. Some changes have been made as a result of those meetings and discussions by the Planning Commission.

Advertisement

The County Commissioners probably will not take up the comprehensive plan until at least May since they are focusing on the annual budget, Planning Director Robert Arch said Monday. The commissioners will hold at least one public hearing prior to adopting the plan.

One area of the plan that sparked criticism at town meetings dealt with the following changes in density requirements:

n Property owners in preservation zoning districts would be limited to one home per 30 acres. The existing limit is one home per three acres. There are 67,635 acres in the district.

n Property owners in environmental conservation zoning districts would be limited to one home per 20 acres. The current limit is one home per 2 acres. There are 90,945 acres in the district.

n Property owners in agricultural preservation zoning districts would be limited to one home per 10 acres. The current limit is one home per acre. There are 84,981 acres in the district.

The density changes were suggested by the state, which has been pushing counties to take greater control over development, Arch said.

Planning Commission staff members, responding to residents' criticisms, later added to the draft an incentive program to reward landowners who would agree to certain criteria, such as having visual buffers along roads and using historic easements.

Under the incentive program, property owners in preservation districts could have up to one unit per 10 acres, environmental conservation district property owners could have up to one unit per 8 acres and agricultural preservation district property owners could have up to one unit per five acres.

At a March 19 public hearing on the plan, Maryland Department of Planning Program Implementation Coordinator James T. Noonan expressed concern about the incentive program.

He said Thursday that the state is supportive of the proposed density reductions but would like the commission to reconsider the incentive program, which would result in a higher density.

Planning commission members said the incentive program is needed, especially for farmers, whose land value may be hurt by the change.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|