Important Public Meeting Reviews Draft of Comprehensive Plan Wednesday Evening

A public meeting for reviewing the draft Comprehensive Plan has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Elk Room of the Cecil County Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Boulevard, Elkton, MD 21921. The public will have an opportunity to comment but if you would like to testify, you must sign up in advance.

The County is projected to grow by almost 50 percent by 2030, from 103,800 to 155,000, faster than any other MD county, according to a county brochure describing the process.  Maintaining the County’s
agricultural industry and rural character and creating employment and
economic development are some of the key challenges the committee is charged with addressing.

Here’s a link to a brochure describing the process

Here’s a link to the plan.

The Cecil County Young Republicans held a live forum hosting members of the comprehensive plan committee, a few weeks ago.   We found that to be particularly interesting since it was the first insightful information we had available to us.   Click here to read that live post and watch the video recording of the meeting.

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2 responses to “Important Public Meeting Reviews Draft of Comprehensive Plan Wednesday Evening

  1. Diana Broomell

    New Comprehensive Plan: 50,000 New Residents in 20 Years. Is this What Cecil County Wants?

    A public meeting for reviewing the draft Comprehensive Plan has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Elk Room of the Cecil County Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Boulevard, Elkton, MD 21921. The public will have an opportunity to comment but if you would like to testify, you must sign up in advance.

    As a member of the Comprehensive Plan Oversight Committee, I am very concerned with the plan we’ve recently adopted on the direction of growth for Cecil County over the next 20 years.

    Currently our population is about 100,000 residents. The question posed to our committee was: “Do we accept the 50,000 new residents that Maryland Department of Planning has projected for our county over the next 20 years (making Cecil the fastest growing County in the State) or do we take decisive steps to effectively control growth at a more sustainable rate?” We asked, “What is a sustainable rate?“ Staff and consultant promised us information on the impact of this growth on costs for services, schools, roads and infrastructure projects but have yet to deliver any credible accounting. We cannot tell you where the money will come from to finance this population explosion but historically it has been financed by the tax payers.

    There have been ongoing objections from committee members who were led to believe these numbers were only used to determine the impact and if we didn’t like the results we could scale back the population – which many of us wanted to do from the beginning. Instead, we didn’t go back and scale down the numbers and the map and numbers were adopted by a very narrow margin with little discussion. Out of 38 members, the vote was 10 to 11.

    Clive Graham (ERM Consultant) said, “I want you to understand what these numbers mean. It will essentially turn Cecil County into Harford County overnight?“ Why do we want to take a different direction for growth than the 1990 Plan? Why does Cecil County’s biggest draw have to be residential growth? ERM claimed that an increase in population will increase the amount of jobs available in the county. Isn‘t that why we are a bedroom community today!?

    Chairman Lane was asked, “What if the citizens don’t agree with this plan?” and she replied, “This committee represents the public and it’s a done deal.” Looking around the room I can tell you that there were many on this committee (appointed by our County Commissioners) that did not represent the majority of the public and were voting to reflect their own vested interests.

    The reality is we don’t have to embrace this dramatic growth increase that serves no benefit other than to dramatically increase our taxes, school overcrowding, and road congestion. This is not a done deal until the County Commissioners vote on the final plan and now is the time for YOUR input.

    The public forum welcomes your comments and questions at any time. The Draft Concept Plan, a comment form, and a flyer with more detail on the forum is posted on the County’s website at http://www.ccgov.org/dept_planning/index.cfm . Please note that the deadline for submitting questions using the form is August 11th.

    If you decide to attend the forum, good questions to ask might include:

    1. “Why would we support having 50,000 new residents in 20 years? Was this a unanimous vote or were there many objections? If so, what were the objections?”

    2. “Do you believe this is a Comprehensive Plan that a majority of the County wants and why or why not?”

    3. “How does this plan work towards getting Cecil County away from being a bedroom community? Did ERM really make the claim that an increase in population will increase the amount of jobs available in the county? Isn’t that why we are a bedroom community today: too many people; not enough jobs? Please explain?

    4. “Who thinks 50,000 new residents in 20 years is too much and too fast?”

    5. “What is the estimate for the capital costs from this growth?“ One billion is what the consultant has projected but many on the committee feel that not all realistic future needs were included on their list. (See questions #6 and #16)

    6. “How many new schools will be needed to accommodate the children when 50,000 new residents come into Cecil County? Currently, we have 17 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 6 high schools and our population is at 100,000. How is it possible that the projected school needs in 20 years to accommodate the 50,000 additional residents are only 4 elementary schools and 1 high school? Not to mention, many of our schools are already overcapacity. Does this mean more trailers to accommodate the growth or was this need seriously underestimated?”

    7. “If there is going to be a 50% increase in costs for parks, libraries, prisons, police and landfills, where will the money come from? While the previous comprehensive plan encouraged impact fees, only taxes were increased to pay for the growth. What guarantees do we have that this won’t happen again?”

    8. “Was there anyone on this committee that owns land in Cecil County which will be up zoned due to this new plan? If so, did they recuse themselves from the vote?”

    9. “Who on this committee works in the real estate community and/or profits from development?”

    10. “How will the dramatically increased growth area affect our rural areas? When this type of growth comes, doesn’t it put enormous growth pressure into the rural areas? Do you anticipate this happening, why or why not?”

    11. “Where in this draft plan are there jobs created?”

    12. “Will this new plan negatively affect Cecil County’s major economic engines? Will this also affect quality of life issues which are a major factor in attracting the high tech industries into an area because they want to locate in areas that their employees want to live: good schools, roads, quality of life.”

    13. “What can we expect Cecil County to look like in 20 years with the proposed larger development area, greatly increased population with a greater possibility of no firm control over development? How will the 3 Priority Preservation Areas adopted in this draft plan help to control encroaching development into areas that benefit the agricultural industry and have have the highest ecological value.”

    14. “How much have we increased the amount of commercially zoned property for economic development compared to the previous 1990 plan. Is it true that mixed use residential and employment allows for high density housing.” If they respond that they can’t reasonably measure, then I would ask, “How can you know if you have effectively addressed the issue of providing more opportunity for expanding the tax base?”

    15. “How can we be sure we can afford this type of growth? While the County Budget Manager, Craig Whiteford, said we could afford these capital costs, was this based on the fact that a county can always increase taxes to pay for growth (double digit increases for 12 years in a row) and all that is needed to get a Triple A bond rating is a willingness to raise any tax, on any one, at any time? Doesn‘t Craig Whiteford work at the discretion of the County Commissioners?“

    16. “Currently the majority of our roads are at a level B (as in passing grade) and the added population would move the level of service to a D or E (not good or failing). This is the same type of congestion seen in Reisterstown, Jarrettsville, or Middletown, Delaware. Why would this be acceptable?”

  2. Diana, as a member of the committee working to prepare the new comprehensive plan, thanks for stopping by to update us on some of the concerns.

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