Calvert Co. Gov. Focuses on Growth Management - Southern Maryland Headline News

Calvert Co. Gov. Focuses on Growth Management


Public Input is Vital in Addressing Quality of Life

By Calvert County Board of Commissioners

Growth has long been an important issue in Calvert County. In the 1990s it became the top issue. Between 1990 and 2004, the county population skyrocketed from 51,000 to more than 86,000.

County leaders acted. Residential zoning density was cut twice, in 1999 and 2003, with a goal of reducing residential build-out to 37,000 households. These controls helped mitigate the negative effects growth was having on schools, roads, public services and other elements related to quality of life.

The county's Comprehensive Plan says we are to look at our growth management policies to see if we are staying on track with our build-out goal. We are beginning a discussion about our progress and want your opinion.

Our policies have had positive effects. Our residential growth rate slowed from 3.6 percent per year to less than 1 percent. New schools are built as replacements rather than to add capacity. Farmland conversion has nearly stopped and traffic growth has slowed. However, we are still projected to exceed our build-out goal. We are now at 31,000 households and projected to go to 41,000 under current conditions.

Recently other factors have impacted our growth policies. The market for Transferable Development Rights (TDR) is languishing and more developers are asking for TDR waivers. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandating the preparation of local plans to reduce nutrient and sediment loads in waterways. If we do not meet EPA goals, future commercial and residential permits could be halted.

The board of commissioners has asked county staff to develop initiatives that will meet our growth goals while addressing all of these factors. The broad list of options includes:

-- Making no changes
-- Reducing build-out through purchase of development rights
-- Focusing on location of growth and meeting EPA goals
-- Focusing on housing

County staff gave a presentation on this issue at the commissioners' June 21 meeting. You may view the full presentation online at http://www.co.cal.md.us/assets/GrowthManagement.pdf.

As we further develop growth policy options we plan to hold a series of open houses to review options and get resident input. Your views are vital to this effort. Please let us know what you think as we explore this issue.

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