First of all, we assume that all parties, including the BOCC, the Planning Commission and our wonderful Planning and Zoning staff, are all working for the betterment of Calvert County. We hope that others will assume our intentions are the same.
Although characterized as such by the BOCC, “Keep Calvert Country” is not a “special interest” group. We are a bi-partisan group of citizens who love Calvert’s Rural Character and want to protect Calvert’s Quality of Life. We believe “Quality of Life” relates directly to a strong economy. We are not anti-growth, but we want Calvert to grow no faster than its infrastructure – in other words, to “Grow Responsibly”.
Like all other citizens in the County, we were invited to submit comments on the consultant’s draft plan and did so within the allotted seven week comment period. We felt that more time was needed for citizens to review and discuss a document that will guide development for decades to come and said so. We still feel the same today.
We expressed our deep concern that traffic congestion is virtually dismissed as an issue in the draft plan, despite the fact that the Commissioners themselves are projecting a 72% increase in traffic by 2030. We believe that traffic – especially as it relates to the time it takes commuters to get to and from work and as it relates to public safety – should be a top priority for the Plan. We only have one major north-south highway.
We expressed concern over what appears to be a proposed weakening of our land preservation program. It looks like there will be less need for Transferable Development Rights and that the goal of preserving 40,000 acres is being eliminated. These are legitimate questions, not “scare tactics”.
We also feel it necessary to address the Commissioners’ characterization of the Plan as a “visionary document”. It is important for citizens to understand that it is much more than that. State law requires that all land use decision be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The consultant left the “Purpose Statement” out of the draft plan, and we believe it is essential that it be put back in. It gives a clear explanation of how the plan is to be used. You may read the current “Purpose Statement” on page iii of the current Plan here: http://www.co.cal.md.us/DocumentCenter/View/254.
Our other concerns about the Comprehensive Plan, which include more opportunities for strip commercial development, less concern about the appearance of our Town Centers and virtually no attention to our history and heritage can be found on our website at www.KeepCalvertCountry.com. We have also posted a more detailed response to the Commissioners’ Open Letter at this site. We also welcome comments on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KeepCalvertCountry or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We sincerely believe the Commissioners do not want Calvert to become another “Waldorf” which has come to mean terrible traffic, endless failed intersections, strip commercial development and no architectural identity or features that represent the region’s heritage. We are therefore surprised and disappointed that the Commissioners have chosen to characterize our comments as “misrepresenting facts”. But we are gratified to read that despite the December 8th deadline for comments on the first daft, the Commissioners have stated that the “public conversation is open and ongoing.” We look forward to it.
Greg Bowen / Keep Calvert Country