Engaging in the preparation of a new comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance
Over the last 40+ years, Calvert County developed a reputation for good planning:
- In 1974, Calvert County’s first comprehensive plan was adopted. The county received an award from the National Association of Counties for the citizen participation process used to develop the plan. The central focus of the plan was retaining the county’s rural character.
- In 1978, the Calvert County Commissioners adopted the first county program to preserve farmland and forestland in Maryland. It may also have been the first transferable development rights program in the country and it is still recognized as one of the most effective programs to direct growth away from prime farm and forest areas while minimizing any adverse impact on property values.
- In 1983, the Calvert County Commissioners adopted a new comprehensive plan, recognized by the American Planning Association as a “new wave plan” for its citizen participation and establishment of town centers. It was one of the first county efforts in Maryland to curb strip commercial development (by directing new commercial growth to town centers) and it has been largely effective.
- Beginning with the Solomons Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance in 1986, the Calvert County Commissioners became the first in the state to adopt architectural review requirements for new development in all county designated town centers.
- The 1997 Calvert County Comprehensive Plan called for the county to consider a residential buildout limit. The Commissioners recognized that Calvert’s only main highway, Maryland 4, has limited capacity, and they were concerned about the high cost of rapid growth to tax payers. In 1999, the Commissioners set a buildout limit of 37,000 households and used zoning tools and adequate facilities regulations to reduce the impact on the highways and other public infrastructure. The growth rate slowed. From being the first or second fastest growing county in the state for over a dozen years, it is now the 11th fastest growing county in the state (2010 to 2014) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In 2006, the County Commissioners adopted a new Zoning Ordinance which allowed farmers to develop value-added products on their farms, such as pickles, jams, and wine, along with direct sales of food grown on their farms. It also permitted agri-tourism uses (e.g. corn mazes and hay-rides) that enabled farmers to increase their income potential. These changes enabled farmers to expand their operations along with consumer interest in local food and farming. Direct sales to consumers grew 91% between 2007 and 2012, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture.
- In 2010, the County Commissioners amended the Comprehensive plan to include progressive monitoring standards and strategies to achieve Chesapeake Bay water quality goals.
At the request of the Board of County Commissioners, the Planning Commission is preparing a new comprehensive plan. The consultant preparing the plan is also writing a new zoning ordinance, concurrent with plan preparation.
As required by state law, citizens will be asked for input in the planning process. As per our mission, the Sustainable Calvert Network would like to see a future for Calvert County that “fully integrates farming, fishing, natural and cultural resources, along with economic and societal needs.” We hope that you agree that the county’s rural character, its fishing, crabbing and recreational opportunities and the availability of agricultural products, local food and drink is important.
We plan to provide facts and resources that allow people to make informed opinions. Join us in helping to create a new plan that maintains or improved quality of life in the county.