STEVENSVILLE — The Kent Island Branch of the Queen Anne’s County Free Library was the site of the first Community Visioning Session Thursday, Feb. 6, to get public input on the 2020 Comprehensive Plan update.
The Queen Anne’s County Department of Planning and Zoning, and consultant Smith Planning and Design, presented the project timeline and pertinent documents, such as the Stevensville area community development plan and 2010 Comprehensive Plan.
Among the steps in the process included were opportunities for public input, review periods by the count, and the adoption of the final product in December 2020.
“Public input is the cornerstone of the entire process and this plan is developed for the citizens of the county,” said Mike Wisnosky, director of the Queen Anne’s County Department of Planning and Zoning. “The first quarter of the process is data collection, and that means understanding what was decided in 2010. The question is whether those decisions and goals in the 2010 master plan are still valid or if they need to be changed or eliminated.”
Virginia Smith, project manager for Smith Planning and Design, said more than a single approach to data and input gathering is being used simultaneously. Currently, www.qacplan2020.com also is a tool for residents to fill out an online survey for what they hope to see in the Comprehensive Plan.
Paper surveys have been distributed to county offices, with additional meeting scheduled for Kent Narrows from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the Chesapeake Visitors Center. The Grasonville workshop will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the Grasonville Community Center.
“We’re doing workshops that are topical like the sustainability improvement workshop, and having listening sessions with stakeholder groups, and staff. We’re talking to those at the state level and other interested parties to collect that information,” Smith said.
Also a priority is distinguishing between the Comprehensive Plan and the county’s zoning ordinance. The Comprehensive Plan generally guides land use and is an advisory document while the zoning ordinance is part of the County Code. It serves to regulate the type, scale and intensity of development which may occur in the specific zoning districts.
During the session, the public was invited to examine both the 2010 Comprehensive Plan and mark points they felt were the most important. Also reviewed was the individual community development plan for specific locations in the county.
Those would be affected as well by any permanent changes to the overall county plan.
“The challenge is getting community involvement in the process,” County Commissioner Jim Moran said. “It makes our job so much easier when there’s 1,000 people at every listening meeting instead of just 100. When you have less than one percent of the population involved, you still have to weigh everyone’s opinion when we as county commissioners ultimately have the final say.”
Moran, who pointed out additional commercial development would be more economically beneficial for the county, said traffic remained an issue as well as development of parks and conservation space.
“We have a longstanding interest in preserving the heritage of Kent Island and this plan is a great opportunity to do that,” said Jack Broderick, president of the Kent Island Heritage Society. “There’s a section in the 2010 plan that speaks to historic and cultural preservation, and I would like to see a formal preservation plan including a preservation commission to review new development. A section on the preservation of historic structures is needed, and finally archaeological protections.”