An overview of the first 4 of 5 workshops held by the County for the Comprehensive Plan rewrite

Calvert County Community Planning and Building has started a two-year process to plan the future of Calvert County. From transportation, economic development and public safety to recreation, natural resources and housing – all this will be laid out in the Comprehensive Plan update and Zoning Ordinance rewrite process.  All information is from the Calvert County website and may be accessed at under the issue papers for each workshop.

What is a Comprehensive Plan?
A comprehensive plan is the foundational policy document for local governments functioning like a community’s framework or vision for future growth to be implemented through local laws, such as zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations, and public investments over the next 20 to 25 years.

What does a Comprehensive Plan do?
A comprehensive plan is a locally adopted long-range plan that includes analysis and establishes goals, policies and actions to guide a community’s land use, economy, housing, community facilities, housing and transportation. It provides the basis for development regulations and local capital improvement plans over a multiyear period.

How does the Zoning Ordinance relate to the Comprehensive Plan?
A comprehensive plan sets forth the vision and policies, a zoning ordinance provides the rules for using or developing land. Per Maryland State law, zoning regulations must be consistent with a local government’s comprehensive plan.

What is a Zoning Ordinance?
A zoning ordinance sets forth regulations and standards regarding the use and development of land and structures. A zoning ordinance describes zones, the types of uses allowed in each zone, and the conditions by which those uses are allowed. A zoning ordinance includes a map of zoning districts and may include regulations regarding the subdivision of land.

The County has planned a series of 5 workshops – 4 of which have already taken place.
1.  Providing an Efficient and Multi-modal Transportation System
2.  Supporting Options in Community Character: Developing a Place-type Strategy
3.  Fostering Communities with Multi-Generational Opportunities
4.  Preserving Rural Character and Directing Growth to Existing Population Centers
5.  Not yet scheduled but will be – Strengthening Economic Vitality and Tourism

Topics of discussion at Providing an Efficient and Multi-modal Transportation System

1. Think about where and how you currently travel through and around the county. What would need to change for you to use a different method (such as taking transit, walking, or biking) to make those trips?

2. What steps could be taken to create more walkable, bikeable Town Centers? What particular Town Centers or sections/areas of Town Centers should be prioritized for improvement? Why?

3. How can the county make it easier to get between Town Centers and other population centers in the county? What are the ways to encourage more of these trips be by bus or bicycle?

4. How should MD 4 and MD 2/4 be treated when they bisect a Town Center? What improvements, if any, could be/should be made to turn MD 4 and MD 2/4 into a connection rather than a barrier between the different parts a Town Center?

5. Allocate 100 points across the following five areas where Calvert County should invest its time and funding. The more desirable the approach, the more points should be allocated to it.
___ Improve through county movements on MD 4 and MD 2/4 by limiting access along it and building over/under passes and interchanges
___ Improve local roads that connect residential areas to Town Centers
___ Continue/improve bus service that connects the Town Centers
___ Make the Town Centers more walkable/bikeable
___ Improve/expand transit services that circulate within the Town Centers

Topics of discussion at Supporting Options in Community Character: Developing a Place-type Strategy

Do you agree with the place types proposed: Town Centers, Villages, Hamlets, Waterfront Communities, and Residential Transition Areas? What are your thoughts on these types? If not, what place-types would you suggest?
Do you agree with the places proposed for each place-type?
Town Centers: Dunkirk, Prince Frederick, Lusby and Solomons
Villages: Huntingtown, Owings, and St. Leonard
Hamlets: Sunderland/Mount Harmony, Barstow, Chaneyville, Lower Marlboro, andWhite Sands
Waterfront Communities: Plum Point, Dares Beach, Cove Point, Summer City, ScientistsCliffs, Calvert Beach, Long Beach, and Broomes Island

What changes would you make to the proposed designations?
What characteristics would a Town Center or Village need to have for you to live and/or workthere?
What areas would you suggest for the Residential Transition Area?

Topics of discussion at Fostering Communities with Multi-Generational Opportunities
The place-type principles described above can begin to shape updates to the
Comprehensive Plan Update and countywide zoning ordinance. This community
planning approach can address the need to preserve community character and guide
future growth by providing development standards aligned to the built characteristics
of the county’s designated Town Centers and population centers.
The following steps would need to be taken to integrate this place-based approach to
community planning and zoning in the county.
For the Comprehensive Plan update:
-Determine which locations in Calvert County are appropriate for each place type.
-Finalize guiding principles for future growth in each place-type and incorporate
them in the draft updated Comprehensive Plan.
-Establish place-type boundaries in the draft updated Comprehensive Plan,
including changing the boundaries of the existing Town Center proposed to
continue as Town Centers.
For the Zoning Ordinance update:
-Review existing zoning to determine which zoning districts are consistent with the
principles applicable to each place-type and which require modification.
-Develop zoning text with size, height, and area regulations, site design, and
landscape design standards that reflect the on-the-ground conditions and
expectations of the communities and the vision of the county for the new placetypes
and refine the Town Center regulations.
-Prepare a series of graphics that convey dimensional regulations and design
standards stipulated by the new zoning text.
-Identify, draft, and map zoning districts within each place-type.

Topics of discussion at Preserving Rural Character and Directing Growth to Existing Population Centers
Possible Strategies
Directing Growth into Designated Areas
For over forty years, Calvert County has had policies to preserve its rural character by direct growth away from the rural areas. Existing policies to direct future growth to designated growth areas could be strengthened and new ones adopted. This section outlines possible strategies to consider for directing development and establishing clear boundaries between rural and developed areas. These strategies could encourage development in the designated areas, restrict development in rural areas, and buffer rural areas from growth areas in order to limit scattered residential development.
Define Growth Boundaries More Clearly
The 2010 Comprehensive Plan designates Town Centers and their one-mile radius as growth areas. In practice there is little visible distinction between the designated growth areas and the surrounding rural
land. Better defining the limits of the growth areas through zoning designations, site selection for public buildings, utility extension policy, and road construction standards could create a greater sense of difference between areas proposed for development and those intended for preservation and protection.
Redefine Growth Areas around Designated Town Centers
The 2010 Comprehensive Plan defines a one-mile radius around each Town Center as a location for additional growth, limited primarily to single-family detached homes on private well and septic systems. These boundaries could be better defined based upon existing land use patterns, the size of the core community, the roadway network, utility extension policies, preservation priorities and environmental constraints. Redefining these boundaries would make future development in these locations more predictable and better identified with the associated Town Center. If the place-type Village is adopted in the Comprehensive Plan update, define growth areas for them.
Use Wastewater Infrastructure to Direct Development
Encouraging investment in sewer service inside Town Centers would allow the construction of new housing types and, possibly, more affordable housing that would better serve the needs of young and senior adults. The areas with existing capacity could be prioritized to support additional growth. This strategy can be effective at accommodating new development within existing systems and could increase the use of TDRs.
Create Appropriate Densities in the Town Centers
A strong course of action would be to require minimum densities in areas designated for growth where public water and sewer are available. This strategy could encourage development at the higher densities preferred in Town Centers.
Permit Increases in Commercial Intensity through the Use of TDRs
Allowing construction of larger or taller commercial structures if the developer uses TDRs would encourage the protection of rural land as a trade-off for more intense development.
Cluster Development to Transition from Town to Countryside
Clustering new lots created on parcels at the periphery of the Town Centers could help establish a clear distinction between growth and rural areas. Clustering would allow the property owner to concentrate development on one part of a site, the part nearest to the Town Center or Village (if Villages are adopted in the updated Comprehensive Plan). When the owner permanently restricts the rest of the property to open space or farmland, it contributes to the visual boundary at the edge of the growth area.
Preserving Rural Character
Rural preservation strategies can protect the rural landscape, give preference to active agricultural operations and provide predictability for residents and landowners. The following strategies can be continued or initiated.
Continue to Fund the Purchase and Retirement (PAR) Program
Funding and pursuing the purchase and retirement of development rights in locations where there are active farms or in locations with particular value as open space would advance a number of policy goals. This strategy might include removing the restrictions on the number of development rights the county purchases from a single property. The greater challenge for this program is identifying funding. Sources could include county transfer taxes or similar local sources, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF), local and state land trusts as well as the Department of Defense in order to reduce development that may negatively impact the Patuxent Naval Air Station and its operational mission.
Require Development Rights be Used for Family Conveyance Lots
The family conveyance exception allows property owners to create additional lots over and above the current zoning limit as long as the lot is intended for a member of the owner’s family. The number of conventional lots may be doubled through the use of family conveyance lots up to a total maximum of seven lots if the minimum lot size requirements can be met. Lots may be transferred out of the family after seven years; lots may be transferred out of the family sooner if five TDRs are applied to each lot. The creation of family conveyance lots allows creation of more lots in the rural area without any offsetting reduction in potential build-out of the county.
Review Design Standards for Rural County Roads
Preserving the look and limiting the capacity of the rural roads may help to maintain the rural character of Calvert County. While still providing safe roads, people in many rural areas want to avoid conventional roadway design that can alter that character of the community and promote higher speeds. By using standards for local rural roads, engineers for the county and developers can respond to design standards that accommodate autos, bikes and, where appropriate, pedestrians, in a way that also recognizes the visual impact of roads on the rural character of select parts of the county.
Create Green Corridors
Natural areas such as wetlands, wildlife habitat, beaches, and steep slopes are important from an environmental perspective, and they also help create the special character of rural areas. The county should look for opportunities to connect protected natural areas to create a connected network of green spaces (green infrastructure). Where appropriate, this network could include hiking trails to create recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. These greenways could provide real benefits to the local economy by bringing more tourism to the county while still supporting the environment, working farmlands, forests, and fisheries.
Support Productive Agriculture
Identifying and supporting working agricultural lands can help reduce the financial pressure for conversion of farmland. Calvert County’s ongoing efforts to support agri-tourism and to develop new markets for local produce could continue to protect a connected rural landscape.
Share Your Ideas
1. Preserving farm and forest land has been a priority of Calvert County for over 40 years. What actions would you support the county taking to preserve even more land? How could those actions be paid for?
2. One way to protect farm and forest land is to direct growth away from them and into designated areas. What incentives would you support the county providing to encourage/attract/direct growth to designated areas?

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