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Caroline County Listening Sessions, February 15, 2018

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism and Regional Planning  ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support and Data ♦ Economic Development ♦ Youth ♦ Housing ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Community Engagement and Volunteerism ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Funding ♦ Neighboring Jurisdictions ♦ What the County is Missing ♦ State Agencies ♦ Technical Assistance ♦ Planning ♦ General

The comments below represent the statements or points of view of one or more individuals who participated in the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) “A Better Maryland” Development Plan Listening Sessions. These comments do not represent any official position or policy of MDP or any other State agency, nor do they represent any official position or policy of any local jurisdiction or local planning agency.

Regionalism and Regional Planning

There is a local desire to open up and reconsider Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) for rural areas

Do they still make sense for our towns? Do existing PFAs still qualify?

Perhaps new considerations for what constitutes a PFA are needed, especially with nutrient load requirements, TMDL goals, septic tanks, or if considering public health and safety

State needs to look at regional implications of planning decisions and issues

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

Renewable energy decisions, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, are all made at the State level. Concerned about Public Service Commission (PSC)

Worried that legislation that County put in place to cap the number of acres dedicated to renewable energy production will be overridden by State PSC

Dispersed energy generation may be a conflict over the next few years

We want to do our own local planning on this and other issues

For example, the Public Service Commission will deny one of our local plans, but then won’t offer any help to fix it

No unfunded mandates

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Mapping Support and Data

Locals need assistance accessing and using data

Funding needed for permit/GIS software. County can’t do what they need/want to do for analytical purposes. ESRI licenses are extra for add-ons. Consider piggy-backing on State license

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Economic Development

Ordinances and regulations can impede families from moving to the County, which impacts the recruitment of teachers and other professionals

Agriculture is the County’s number 1 employer

Ties into the beauty and community feel and provides open spaces

Once ag land turns into subdivisions, it is lost

The State allowed a manufacturing company to move to Delaware, which resulted in the loss of 50 jobs, in Federalsburg. Conducted no outreach to the company encouraging them to stay

We want jobs, but not at any cost (this was reiterated many times)

Too many empty buildings in the County

Encourage tourism of local history, beauty, and outdoor activities

The population of the Eastern Shore has grown, but the economy hasn’t grown to match it

People can’t afford to live on the Western Shore, and they can’t find good a job on the Eastern Shore

Government and private Investment in our Eastern Shore farms is needed

Create tax-free zones in and around our small towns with empty and unused warehouses. Make them available to businesses compatible for safe and pollution-free industries. Give land, in and around towns, a break from taxes so that they can invest in their infrastructure while utilizing empty stores. Bring back taxes after it is shown that these new businesses are budding enough to afford to invest back in the towns but make these new taxes fair

Expand the Salisbury Airport to accommodate international flights

Cambridge needs a deep water international harbor large enough to compete on a smaller scale with Norfolk and Baltimore

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Youth

90% of youth leave for jobs elsewhere

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Housing

Foreclosed homes are hard to do anything with. Can’t make the finances work on them. Banks are making improvements to properties

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Infrastructure

Caroline County is carrying the burden on running the Greensboro sewer line northward to the other small municipalities (This was strongly stated in both the staff and officials’ sessions)

It is moving so slowly and they could use some help accelerating the lines

Do this and Caroline will listen to Smart Growth

We are going to have to dig up the same holes again to connect to new sewer line

School construction

Every 5 years the County faces a $40,000,000 school construction project

Wage rates, however, are set based on standards from across the bridge

The Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) process and formulas should account for regional differences

Large influx of student growth moved to Preston for good school

Need Broadband or County is going to be left behind

We need to invest in our farms for building wind and solar power

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Community Engagement and Volunteerism

Community organizations are a big driver of positive change in Caroline

Examples such as Shore Rivers and Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

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Transportation

Many people in the County would be perfectly fine if the Bay Bridge disappeared

Roads can’t handle beach traffic

Need a new bay bridge with high speed train. We once had rail to Philly, very sad that is no longer

Easier access to jobs with mass transit

County has main streets with empty stores, pot holes in roads, traffic jams on throughways when drivers are trying to get to the ocean resorts

Need to consider connection the Western and Eastern Shores with tunnels in multiple locations

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Environment

Critical areas have expanded by 300 acres in Caroline

Most of the County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) receiving areas are in Critical Area

Areas where they would like to put residential uses

Reduce inputs to Choptank River

Concern over powerplant project

Don’t want pipeline and pollution

Where is the pipeline spur going to go?

Concerned with the Conowingo Damn improvements and bay restorations

Support the moratorium on fracking

Oysters help filter the bay

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Community

Residents here choose to live in the rural environment

Open space keeps people here

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Funding

Funding for software, such as Geographic Information Systems and permits, is needed. Lack of local funding for this is a barrier

Or adjusting the state contract with software provider to allow for local licenses

A Better Maryland should address increased funding

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Neighboring Jurisdictions

State as facilitator

Could help facilitate conversations and issues between Counties and Towns

Model APFO ordinances for schools that would help with Town and County planning

Model ordinances for medical marijuana, solar, etc.

Good to have additional person at the table

Should have uniform plans for all municipalities, so plans do not conflict

Regional and inter-county transportation issues should be addressed

Conflicting driver’s license requirements

DCT bus won’t take passengers to destinations in Denton

Pollution from New York and Pennsylvania a problem

Coordinate crabbing industry and regulations with Virginia

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What the County is Missing

Staff resources are so limited. The Mayor’s currently do so much

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State Agencies

Need for more teamwork and collaboration at the state and local level

Sometimes the Maryland Historical Trust has been an obstacle

Need to get all State agencies on the same page

Significant amount of inefficiencies

Model ordinances would be very helpful, or even just templates

The current back and forth between state and localities is convoluted and inefficient

Examples

Surface mining, wind power, medical marijuana

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Technical Assistance

The Department of Housing and Community Development’s Circuit Rider Programs should be expanded

Town Manager

Big learning curve with a small town, and with the high turnover of a short-term position, the circuit rider is always learning

Lack of continuity is a problem

Small-town planner

10 municipalities in Caroline County less than 200 in population

The program helps both the municipalities and the County

Towns want to do good planning, don’t want to be taken advantage of by developers

Only a 2-year grant

Hard to recruit and hold on to people in such a short-term position and takes time for planner to build trust/longevity

Help with aligning goals and objectives with available funding sources

Look at TMDL issues, water and sewer planning, septic

No tax base for Comprehensive plans

Statewide Navigator position to help sorting through various State agency requirements and programs

Sustainable Communities designations and action plans

Need for a state directory of contact and other information where a locality would start when pursuing funding or other assistance

Assistance with broadband expansion, specifically small cell wireless technology

Don’t want the digital divide to get any bigger

Help with historic home restoration

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Planning

A Better Maryland

Should incorporate the top projects/objectives/actions from local comp plans

Regional impact of issues

Longer term view

Meta-analysis is under the State purview

Bring in examples from other places and best practices

Guidance on agri-hoods

Water and sewer planning

Ridgely issue

County is still paying for the Ridgely Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was constructed based on what the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) told them to build. Now MDE is telling them it is obsolete

The County collects no impact fees on multifamily housing built in the Towns

Maintenance of effort increasing many $100,000’s this year

The Caroline County Planning Department is one of the best and has been very proactive and responsive on issues ranging from mining to solar uses

Prefer controlled growth of the Outer Banks to what happened in Ocean City

Compromise must occur between tradition and growth, between the interests of farmers, hunters, history buffs, and ecology protection

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General

Code enforcers are hard to find and hire. County could use help with this

Perhaps a training program for code enforcers

It means a lot to Caroline County when representatives of the State visit

The only way to keep the Eastern Shore of Maryland secure for human habitation in the future is to ensure that it remains relevant to the Western Shore. Treated like an island, Eastern Shore towns and farms will die a slow and painful death

Assets

County Commissioners and Education Board collaborate regularly

For example, the Education Board gave money back to the County a few years ago when it was struggling

Natural beauty and resources

Outdoor activities

Low growth, small town feel

Quaint, tree lined streets

Small businesses

Great parks

Challenges

High local tax rate

Lack of local jobs, many have been lost

Diversifying the tax base

Empty business parks

Powerplant project

Don’t know how to voice concern

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