Old News


New sign regulations despite our best efforts to fight them.

The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners adopted new sign regulations on Jan. 31, 2018, to Section 6-8 of the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance.

Major changes include:
• Content neutrality to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Reed v. Town of Gilbert case opinion.
• More user-friendly:
• Located in one document instead of multiple documents.
• Sign dimensions, sign types and sign location now appears in charts for easier reference.
• Maximum sign areas and sign heights for freestanding signs both in and out of the town centers appear in charts for ease of use.
• All permanent sign regulations are consolidated in one section and all temporary sign regulations are consolidated in another for ease of use.
• A temporary sign is now defined by construction and material make-up of the sign, not a time limit. Temporary sign categories now include air-activated, balloon, flags, banners, blades and yard signs.
• The regulations allow electronic message center signs in the Prince Frederick Town Center and Employment Center zoning districts along MD Route 2/4, West Dares Beach Road and MD Route 231 west of MD Route 2/4.

The county’s code enforcement staff will begin enforcing these new regulations by assisting business owners through the transition. Staff will provide businesses that are out of compliance with a zoning inspection report including a correction date (30 days from date of issuance) along with an online link to the new regulations.

Business owners are encouraged to review the new sign regulations online under Ordinance 04-18.1, Exhibit B. For additional information, please contact the Department of Planning & Zoning at
410-535-2348 or pz@calvertcountymd.gov.


Letter to the Editor from Calvert County resident –  

In the last several months, the County Commissioners received overwhelming numbers of public comments on the draft Calvert County Comprehensive Plan about the frustrating amounts of traffic congestion.  There’s clearly increasing citizen demand for a County-wide traffic study to make sure that future growth and development decisions are made in a way that does not make rush hour traffic congestion unbearable and driving conditions along Route 2/4 and elsewhere even more dangerous.  To their credit, the Planning Commission heard citizen concerns and recommended that the County Commissioners conduct a traffic study.  Despite all this, Commissioners Hejl, Hart and Slaughenhaupt remain skeptical that such a study is needed.
The facts say otherwise.  The last traffic study was done in 2011 and updated in 2013, and looked only at Prince Frederick, not county-wide.  It showed that, during the peak PM rush hour, fully six major Prince Frederick intersections were operating at levels of congestion the State deemed “unacceptable:” MD 2/4 at MD 402, MD 765A at Commerce Lane, MD 765A at Armory Road, MD 765 A at Church Street, MD 2/4 at MD 765, and Prince Fredrick Boulevard at MD 231.  This analysis was based on 2010 traffic volumes (somewhat lower than today).
Now add in that future traffic volumes will increase still further over today’s levels, as Calvert residential and commercial growth finally starts recovering from the effects of the great recession.  For example, four major Prince Frederick residential developments are already in the pipeline: Calvert Hills East (96 apartments), Chaplin South/Beechtree (260 apartments), Oakland Hall Phase 3 (31 houses) and the first section of Armory Square (250 townhouses).  That’s 637 new residences, or, conservatively assuming 1.5 vehicles per residence commute to work, 955 more vehicles added to Prince Frederick AM and PM rush hours.  In addition, some proportion of these vehicles will commute north on 2/4, adding to congestion at Dunkirk, some will commute south into St Mary’s, further aggravating the Thomas Johnson Bridge backup, and some will commute to Charles, adding to the MD231 headache.
Now factor in that the current draft Comprehensive Plan includes large expansions of the town centers, and envisions rezoning much of the added land to densities as high as 24 residences per acre.  Right now, unless a County-wide traffic study is done, there’s no way to calculate the impact of future rezoning and development decisions on traffic conditions and determine how many more intersections will fail. All we have are coarse State estimates that, if projected growth continues, traffic volume along Rt 2/4 will increase from over 50,000 vehicles per day to 83,500 by 2030.  Does anyone seriously think Rt 2/4 can efficiently and safely handle such an increase?
To preserve our current quality of life, it’s imperative that the County Commissioners include traffic study funding in the FY19 budget that will be submitted this Spring.  We must have study results before finalizing growth and rezoning guidance in the new Comprehensive Plan, if that plan is to be at all a responsible document.  Please press Commissioner Hejl, Hart and Slaughenhaupt to fund this study.

Breezy Point


DACCA BOCC Candidate Questions –

Below are the complete questions that were asked of the BOCC candidates at the DACCA forum.

Identify yourself, your district and why you are running for county commissioner. (1 minute)

1.  Dunkirk has long been a “minor” town center and now Planning and Zoning is trying to change it to a “major” town center so that developers can bring in public water/sewer, increased residential density up to 4 per acre and aggressive growth.  Per the proposed Comprehensive Plan, the only criteria that fits Dunkirk under “major” vs “minor” column in their chart is the amount of commercial space.  We do not have a library, we do not have schools.  Residents do not want what being changed to a “major” town center will bring.  What is your solution?  (2 minutes)

2.  The proposed Comprehensive Plan removes buildout caps and expands town centers (Dunkirk by 400 acres) which will have a negative impact on our traffic, schools and aquifer from the uncontrolled growth.  We already have 3 schools over capacity in northern Calvert.   If elected Commissioner, will you support a cap on build-out?  If so provide the number of persons and your reasons why you support it.  If you do not support a cap, please state why.  FYI, 2015 population based on Census numbers was 90,650 per the Maryland Dept of Planning 2017.  (2 minutes)

3.  Our source of water – the Aquia Aquifer is dropping by 2 to 4 feet per year per Dr Albert Tucker, President of the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association (CEPA).  As the water in our aquifer drops,  levels of arsenic concentration rises.   Many wells in the county have levels that are not safe and already need remedial treatment to remove the arsenic.  There are residents who have already had to have their wells drilled deeper to access the water.  Do you think we should stop aggressive growth until a solution to the decreasing levels of the aquifer can be addressed before we run out of water?.  (2 minutes)

4.  The County Commissioners and Planning and Zoning have been developing plans to help increase the use of Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) and Forest Conservation Transferable Development Rights (FCTDRs).  How would you use or not use TDRs and FCTDRs to encourage preservation of natural resources in the county? (1 minute)

5.  Are you willing to revisit the sign regulations in regards to electronic message boards and the so called “temporary” signs that we see in the medians and along the sides of the roads.  (1 minute)

Closing statement (1 minute)


DACCA Special Meeting  June 27, 2018  7pm  DVFD Hall

DACCA is having a special meeting to address Draft 2 of the Comprehensive Plan.  Greg Bowen from Keep Calvert Country and Sustainable Calvert (previous head of Planning and Zoning), will again speak about what needs to be done before the Plan is passed…..  DACCA needs your help!!!!  See info below from Keep Calvert Country.

Petition

Keep Calvert Country is asking citizens of Calvert County to join us in petitioning the Planning Commission to perform detailed studies of the growth proposed in the Comprehensive Plan before approving it. BACKGROUND INFO: THE ISSUE OF TRAFFIC: The biggest quality of life issue that the County is facing: the Commissioners’ own projection that traffic volume will increase to 83,500 trips per day (or 72%) through Prince Frederick by 2030. And of course that traffic increase will be felt along the entire MD 4 corridor. Yet this is what the draft Comprehensive Plan says about it: “The increases in traffic volume during the years of rapid growth still affect the perception of traffic volume changes that Calvert County residents report today. The county has not seen increasing levels of traffic along the primary county arterial road in recent years.” State Law: The Commissioners are refusing to study traffic even though State Law requires that: “A Planning Commission shall prepare a Comprehensive Plan by carefully and comprehensively surveying and studying the present conditions and projections of future growth of the local jurisdiction.” While the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan includes information about “present conditions”, it lacks evidence that “projections of future growth” have been “carefully and comprehensively studied”. To comply with State law and to ensure continued quality of life for citizens, the Planning Commission must study the effects of growth on traffic, schools, the environment, budget, etc. before any growth is proposed. Growth Proposals: Without mention of any studies, the current draft of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan proposes extensive growth by: 1. eliminating the “build-out” provisions of the current Plan, which limits total number of households to approx. 37,000; and 2. expanding the size of Town Centers as shown below: 3. increasing the size of Residential Areas surrounding the Dunkirk, Lusby and Solomons Town Centers. 4. allowing water and sewer in Residential Areas in order to achieve higher densities and additional growth; and 5. making Dunkirk a Major Town Center, which translates to higher density residential and more intensive commercial growth aimed at serving the region rather than serving local needs. Request: To comply with State law, the Comprehensive Plan should not propose any growth until proper studies have been conducted and the results have been presented to the Planning Commission and the public, with adequate time for review, questions, and comments. If studies have in fact been conducted, the results should be included in the Plan. We are asking that the results be shared with the public and the Planning Commission in a public presentation, with adequate time for review, questions, and comments. https://www.keepcalvertcountry.com/petition-studies-before-growth


DACCA General Membership meeting is scheduled for April 25th.
Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Dept hall at 7pm. 

-Speaker 1 will be:   Bill Rector, DVFD Fire Chief and he will discuss the new 2018 Fire/smoke detector laws.
-Speaker 2 will be Greg Bowen, former Director of the Calvert County Planning and Zoning, now from Land Stewardship Solutions LLC, Keep Calvert Country and Sustainable Calvert Network about the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan draft.  He will cover the changes that we need to request be made in the draft before it is passed.  The Plan will determine what future zoning in the county will be for many years to come. 

The last information from Planning and Zoning was this message.
“In response to your request regarding the Dunkirk Town Center and size difference between the existing one-mile radius and the proposed Residential Area as shown on the Land-Use Map included in the Draft Comp Plan, the area within the existing on-mile radius is 1,800 acres; while the area within the proposed Residential Area is 2,200 acres, resulting in a (net) difference of  400.56 acres.”  Our Dunkirk town center will have over 400 acres more of room for development.

 Mark your calendars.


Calvert County Comprehensive Plan Update and Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Process Orientation

Wednesday, August 3
Staff will provide an overview presentation of the update and rewrite process. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions as staff explains what a comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance are and why the need for updates. Demographic, housing and transportation information and trends and a timeline of the update and rewrite project will be shared. This is the public’s opportunity to learn how important this project is to development in Calvert County in advance of the first round of participatory public meetings to be held in the fall.

Date:  August 3, 2016
Time:  7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Time Details:  There will be an open house 30 minutes before each meeting. Maps, graphs, and other information will be on display. Staff will be available to answer questions during the open houses and after each presentation.
Location:  Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department
Address:  3170 West Ward Road, Dunkirk, MD 20754
Contact:  410-535-1600 x2333
Email:  Jenny Plummer-Welker
Cost:  FREE
Link:  http://www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?nid=2031



Renaissance Festival Not Moving South
Thursday, April 02, 2015

From the Chesapeake Current

Following strong opposition from local residents, organizers of the Maryland Renaissance Festival have decided to remain in Crownsville rather than moving to a site off MD Rt. 4 at Bristol in southern Anne Arundel County.

The festival owners had a period of time to appeal the county’s Board of Appeals’ decision in December that denied their variance request and they did not do that. They had sought to move to a 238-acre tract of farmland just southwest Wayson’s Corner/Lothian off the Rt. 4 Bristol exit. The board ruled that the festival failed to meet other criteria of AA County law, and that it would change the character of the neighborhood.

Rick Price, vice president of Bristol Civic Association told the Chesapeake Current, “I’m glad to hear that they dropped it, glad Bristol and the surrounding people actually won one again and stopped the influx. The bigger problem is because Anne Arundel County created this situation – those big, juicy pieces of land that are left are in south county. So we’re always a target for development. It’s unfortunate… and the Renaisssance Festival just did not fit the character of the neighborhood and I’m glad that was brought out.”

The Renaissance Festival could seek to operate in a residential-agricultural zone similar to South County. But first zoning officials must approve a special exception to determine if plans meet county standards.

Local residents turned out in force at public meetings last year to oppose the festival move, citing concerns about traffic, possible congestion, access to and from Route 4, along with community disturbance and that it could be a detriment to public welfare in the rural area.

The Renaissance Festival operates 11 weekends in the fall, beginning the last weekend of August. Each year, the Maryland Fair attracts about 300,000 people during its 19 days of operation.


DACCA Member Cindy Peil sends us this report –

Calvert County Planning Commission 5-20-15 Meeting
(Meets every 3rd Monday, 7PM;  205 Main Street,  Courthouse Square Conference Room; Prince Frederick)

Background: At a meeting April 23 at the Prince Frederick Library on the Comprehensive Plans and Transfer Development Rights, an individual emphatically voiced   Dunkirk’s support for public sewer and water.  Public Sewer and water is part of the Comprehensive Plan, so I attended the meeting where the Draft Water and Sewer Plan
was on the agenda at the monthly County Planning Commission meeting.

Item 10a on the agenda was Draft Water and Sewer Plan Update (Wayne Raither, Chief/DPW)

During public comment,  I provided the comment,  PEOPLE LIVING IN DUNKIRK DO NOT WANT PUBLIC SEWER AND WATER. I talked 3-4 minutes repeating this multiple time.

These recommendations were given when I voiced difficulty with how to provide input on this.

1)  Follow the meeting schedule of the Calvert County Planning Commission.  Click on all the links in the on-line agenda to get the documents that will be considered
(the Sewer Plan Update is 199 pages).

2) Watch for and be active as the County Comprehensive Plan is being updated. THIS IS THE DOCUMENT THAT “DRIVES” ALL DECISIONS ON ZONING, SEWER, and POPULATION DENSITY etc.

3) Watch for and be active as the Dunkirk Town Center Plan is being modified.

4) Contact my BOCC member and share my opinions and ask my BOCC member
to provide his input in the necessary places and to the necessary committees etc.

5) I was not given exact times/places when the Comprehensive plan or Dunkirk Town
Center Plan were to be worked on, but one member emphatically voiced that it would
be done VERY SOON.  (He emphasized this several times with a loud –very soon)

Although members of the commission did not give me exact dates, they did emphasize that the County Comprehensive Plan and Dunkirk Town Center Plans  were being modified VERY SOON.  Both of these are very tied to the changes in TDR (Transfer Development Rights).  The changes currently being made in TDR’s will allow for greater population density in all town centers.  Dunkirk used to be called a ‘minor town center.  Now it is simply a town center.

The work on changes to these  plans are all done in committee and/or in closed work sessions.  After all the changes are made, the documents are presented to the BOCC at one of their Tuesday public meetings.  There is a brief public comment session after which then the BOCC votes, generally on the document exactly as written.   We need to provide input at the committee level.  Waiting for the BOCC meeting where the document comes up for their  approval is too late.  We can go to the BOCC at Tuesday public hearing and tell them we don’t want public sewer and water in Dunkirk, but they are not obligated to take any action, they usually don’t give feedback
to people who provide public comment other than ‘thank you’.

Contacts:
Planning Commission Board members: Maurice Lusby, Chair; Mike Phipps, Vice-Chair, RoxAnne Cumberland, Malcom Funn, Robert Reed, Bill Glasco, and Carolyn Hugh. Yolanda Hipski – Planning Commission Administrator; Becky Parkinson, Clerk to the Planning Commission
hipskiya@co.cal.md.us- Yolanda Hipski  410-535-1600 x2636
raither@co.cal.mc.us – Wayne Rather Public Works Division Chief)        J
haddonpj@co.cal.mc.us- Patricia, Principal Planner
Jenny Plummer-Welker, AICP,  Long Range Planner/CP & B
Julian Mark Willis –Comm. Plann. & Build.  410-535-2204
Tom Barnett, AICP, Long Range Planner

Note:  Per S Fleischman at The Recorder – Jenny Plummer-Welker, County Principal Planner, said that all town centers are allowed to have public water and sewer, but a Dunkirk Town Center Modification would be required to bring water and sewer to that particular town center.


Twin Shields Golf Course, Dunkirk, Maryland via The Capital

58 homes to be built on what will soon be an empty Twin Shields Golf Course.

Final tee time looming at Twin Shields – For years, local golfers, especially those from south county, have traveled just over the Calvert County line to get in a round at Twin Shields Golf Club.  But come Nov. 1, the local 18-hole course in Dunkirk is closing, and those duffers will have to look elsewhere for a day on the links.

The course, developed and nurtured by the late Ray and Roy Shields, is being sold to a Calvert County developer who plans 58 homes on the 223 acres.

The club has been run by Roy Shields’ daughters, Karen and Dianne, since he died in 1998. “The golf business isn’t what it used to be,” Karen Shields said. “A lot of people, especially younger people, can’t take six hours out of their day. Now it seems seniors are the only ones with the money and the time to play.”

Some golfers will hate to see it go. Anne Arundel residents Terence Smith, formerly a correspondent for The New York Times and PBS’ Newshour, and Pat McGrath, a longtime reporter for WTTG television, have been playing there for years.  “It’s very bad for people like myself. It has been my primary golf course for 3 1/2 decades,” said McGrath, who will have to drive farther and pay more to putt around. Smith will miss Twin Shields, too. Well, most of it. “I have lost a lot of golf balls in the pond on the fourth hole,” Smith said. “I suppose I’d be happy to see the fourth hole gone — if they would keep the other 17.”

Waning days
Hung between the pro shop and snack bar buildings at Twin Shields, a whiteboard marks the days.  On Wednesday, it read: “82 days left.” “We have each other’s backs,” said Karen, sitting with her sister on Daddy-O’s Patio overlooking the course. There is a lot of talk about their father. Twins Roy and Ray Shields started in the golf business in the 1930s when they moved from their native Kentucky to Washington, D.C., and started working at the old golf and swimming club at Hains Point. In a few years the two started working at the Annapolis Roads golf and beach club, and within a few years they leased it. Then, they bought it.

Both went off to World War II and returned to find Annapolis Roads overgrown and vandalized.  They cleaned it up and kept it up until selling it in 1968. Meanwhile, they bought a nine-hole course where the defunct White Flint Mall stood in Rockville in 1950, then purchased the Glenn Dale Golf Club in 1958, which Ray Shields’ children still run.

With proceeds from the sale of Annapolis Roads, the Shields brothers bought a tobacco farm along the Anne Arundel County line in Calvert County.  Using a simple plan and a bulldozer, the two — with help from another brother — built the course by sight line. “They were going to call it Twin Valley until someone suggested the twins call it Twin Shields,” Karen said. The daughters take pride in keeping the course shipshape. “Some people say we could have let it go,” Karen said. “But we will not let that happen. We will keep it like our father would have wanted it.”
Economic crunch
Though the course has been averaging about 35,000 rounds a year, the income doesn’t pay the bills, the sisters said. Then again, things were usually tight.  “Dad used to borrow money from the bank to get through the winter and pay it back in the spring,” Karen said. Twin Shields opened in 1968, and then came competing courses. “We kept our prices lower to keep them coming in,” she said. Added her sister: “But our costs went up. The price of seed, fertilizer, everything went sky-high.” So they had to make a decision. They approached Calvert County with the idea of the county buying and operating the course.  The county passed.

A Calvert County homebuilder approached them, and the plan to build homes on the property was born. Final approval for Quality Built Homes’ The Lakes at Twin Shields plan came in July 2012.  Twin Shields regular Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., the Maryland state Senate president, will miss the course’s down-home, blue-collar feel. “My father played there. My uncle and my cousins played there too,” Miller said. “Our family sponsored the 12th hole.” The employees have agreed to stay on until the end. “And we are counting the days,” Karen Shields said. “Together,” her sister chimed in.

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