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Cecil County Listening Sessions, February 27, 2018

What We Heard in Response

 

Regionalism and Regional Planning  ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Public Services ♦ Concern Over Growth Tier Map Requirements ♦ Economic Development ♦ Housing ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Community Engagement and Volunteerism ♦ Training and Education ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Funding ♦ Neighboring Jurisdictions ♦ 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

Cecil County is part of a much larger regional community that includes the State of Delaware. What happens in Delaware affects the County. Maryland and Delaware need to communicate better with one another especially over road issues

Philadelphia market more significant to Cecil than the Baltimore market

County has a big role in WILMAPCO

Regional meetings should move around

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

A Better Maryland should replace PlanMaryland with other recommendations and regulations

Don’t want A Better Maryland to supersede existing local authority, plans, and other documents

State plan needs to follow local plans, the State plan should be a mosaic of the local plans. A bottom up approach is best, and will help gain buy in at the end of the process

Mandates passed by the State that increase costs have a bigger impact on Cecil County

State should always ask itself what may be the unintended consequences of our decisions or mandates

One size fits all doesn’t even work in Cecil, it definitely won’t work statewide!

One on one meetings with jurisdictions would be helpful

Sprinkler and stormwater requirements are a problem

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Public Services

Would be nice for Elkton to get its own Program Open Space and historic preservation funding

Assistance for historic preservation trust capital grants have not been available

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Concern Over Growth Tier Map Requirements

SB 236 Septic Tier mapping has not worked for Cecil County. This needs to be fixed and County hopes that A Better Maryland addresses it

The law negatively impacted property values of Cecil’s farms and is an example of poor collaboration between State and locals

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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

The County is in the northeast corner of the State next to 95, Amtrak rail, CSX rail, Route 301, Route 40 all which affect the County. In addition, the County is located adjacent to Delaware, which has a significantly different tax structure

Economic development is a huge focus of Rising Sun right now. Water and sewer infrastructure needs have been a big barrier to economic development over the past decade. Looking to lift building moratorium soon

The Town recently spent a lot of money on WWTP upgrade, and it will need a lot of economic growth to pay for upgrades and survive

The County anticipates over 2,500 new jobs in the growth corridor

County is over-dependent on and over-chasing the warehouse economy (reiterated many times)

High paying jobs drive quality of life improvements in other areas, such as nicer housing

Middletown Delaware is an example of how employment and housing can work together for growth of an area

Agriculture is a big business and economic driver in Cecil and should be protected

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Housing

Job growth also includes the homebuilding industry. There are too many obstacles that raise the price of housing beyond what is affordable by the residents. Financing, sprinklers, environmental issues, connection fees to water and sewer, Best Available Technology for homes on septic systems all add costs that raise the price of a home beyond what a developer can sell for in the County. County working to reduce connection fees

The County issues less than 100 residential permits per year. Concerned about where the workforce for any economic development will live

Perryville would like to increase residential and business development

County is trying to encourage housing in its growth corridor, but multiple layers of regulations for homebuilding make this difficult

Locally, they have reduced some fees and eased timing requirements, but their streamlining can only take it so far before it presents an issue with State regulations

Only housing that is being developed is multi-family

Ridgely Forest subdivision potential is promising. County is collaborating with the Town of North East and the final project could include 600 units at full buildout

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Infrastructure

State can help local jurisdictions by providing more infrastructure money that will help get more jobs and employment

Assistance getting industrial land ready for marketing and development. Elkton has industrial zoned land with no infrastructure

Infrastructure is needed in the growth corridor

Rising Sun can use help upgrading water & sewer service. The downtown is also undergoing renovation and can use more infrastructure assistance

In Rising Sun, it would be helpful if DNR would allow stormwater management in the State areas

Port Deposit – Bainbridge needs help with water & sewer funding to stimulate development. New WWTP is a start

Solar Farms

 A Better Maryland needs to address these

Expecting more and more to come to Cecil

County had a very active local broadband committee, which completed a detailed report, but State assistance is still needed

Chesapeake City has a new WWTP

A community should bond for sewer improvements in a certain area. These costs should not be paid by all users of the sewer system

Could use assistance with affordable structured parking

All Cecil municipalities have their own WWTPs. More connections should be encouraged to make more cost effective

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Community Engagement and Volunteerism

We need people to want to invest and be leaders in our communities

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Training and Education

Maryland Planning Commissioners Association outreach and training to help combat high Commissioner turnover rate and assist recruitment

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Transportation

The County has good access to transit that connects it to population and employment centers outside of its borders, but intra-county transit is lacking

Local transit funding has been static for some years now. Need demand response type services, which are more efficient

SHA assistance with getting right of way for sidewalk improvements would be a great help

Echoed by Elkton

Sidewalk problems often occur on state roads, and the State should work with locals on this

It’s a problem when the State doesn’t own the right of way, or know who does, because the roads are so old

Also need sidewalks along Rt. 222 that are consistent with historic character of town with historic granite curbs

SHA needs to adjust requirements for road widths in main street areas

Need to keep transit service for rural areas in mind

Desire for better public transit for people to get to and from the Cecil County Public Library. Workforce, families, children. After school transportation is needed

MARC train service

Especially northeast train service between Philadelphia, Delaware, and Baltimore is critical. This is important for keeping and getting younger folks to stay in the County and commute to work

Elkton train station needs to be opened as a full-service MARC Station

Perryville would like increased MARC service, including weekend service and connecting service to Philadelphia and Delaware

MARC train service needs to be expanded. Having a hard time solving the connection between Elkton and Perryville

Expand to include weekend service

Need to be careful about growth impact potential MARC station expansion and connections

Toll Relief (Frequently mentioned concern)

Tolls on Delaware Route 301 and road improvements affect the County

Perryville needs toll relief from MDTA at 95 & 222 to allow people getting on and off at Perryville to pay a smaller toll. A barrier to development

Revenues do not stay in County

Tolls hinder development. Allow use of Hatem EZ Pass on I-95

Rising Sun traffic continues to be a problem, long term planning is needed to create sustainable communities. With only 900 homes paying $850,000 a year in taxes, it is difficult to address problems

Town is working on kicking off a Rails to Trails program

Local traffic problems require state assistance

Both funding and expertise

A big traffic problem looms in the future

Town needs a long-term approach

County could use an interchange with 95 and Belvedere Road, this will help reduce truck traffic at 222 in Perryville because trucks now must use this exit (Reiterated multiple times)

Elkton is completing a pedestrian plan soon

Port Deposit

Concern with Route 222 Bridge at I-95 interchange (echoed by Perryville)

Route 222 runs right down main street and there have been disagreements between the town and SHA on the proper roadway size, which goes through a historic downtown. Need relief from regulations

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Environment

Rising Sun is being landlocked from future growth via land preservation. We have good rural zoning that restricts development however not every area needs to be preserved

DNR is a great partner with the 6-year Local Preservation, Parks, and Recreation Plans

State recently purchased Bohemia River State Park

Open space and a clean environment help tourism economy and service jobs

A Better Maryland should focus on environmental protection, because once you lose it you can’t get it back

County has already preserved 25,000 acres

Cost of this protection must be taken on by the State because locals don’t have the monetary resources to do so

Need to plan for water resources because drought years occur every seven

Must invest in infrastructure supporting the environment

Treatment plants not meeting pollution standards and the solution to this must be a State investment

The Chesapeake Bay and rivers have a large impact on quality of life in Cecil (reiterated many times)

MS4 permits are expensive, technical assistance is needed, and projects are expensive and competitive

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Community

Having a grant program for after school care would be great for the County as many folks are longer distance commuters. Maryland used to have such a program. Grades went up and behavioral problems went down

Many bedroom communities for folks who work in Pennsylvania. Community would benefit from more local jobs

The Susquehanna River acts as a physical barrier that separates Cecil from the rest of Maryland

Business investment affects positive change in a community, but local government is responsible for creating environment that promotes business investment

If you want to support the rural character of the County, you need to support the farms

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Funding

The limited funding that is offered doesn’t make sense when the strings attached are so thick. Not worth it. A grant is too burdensome to push through the bureaucracy

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Neighboring Jurisdictions

Cecil County has good relationships with the municipalities

For example, planning to work with North East on infrastructure investment in growth corridors

Must aspire to have effective collaboration between County and municipalities

Better collaboration with DelDOT and County/State to address Middletown traffic

A Better Maryland should address interstate traffic

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State Agencies

Need better inter-agency communication at the State level on projects and other items (reiterated many times)

Water and sewer amendment process seems to be going more efficiently

Customer service initiative from Governor Hogan is very obvious

MHT regulations have cost the County money and time getting projects approved. Doing an archaeological study on land has been farmed for many generations seems a waste and has hampered park development

Assist with preservation easements to use Elkton Armory for courthouse annex

Need a better relationship with MHT on Phase I studies and coordination with local comprehensive plan and LPPRS for future park locations

MHT stipulations need to be relaxed

Regulations need to have teeth to truly address problems

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Technical Assistance

State Agencies should follow local plans and studies. 2020 Comprehensive Plan may not be completed within a 10-year framework because 2020 Census will just be taking place

State agencies have been good to work with

State should consider having more one on one meetings with local jurisdictions

For example, Rising Sun has a great relationship with DHCD

Perryville has a good relationship with Planning, and uses the regional planner

Rising Sun – The State needs to avoid telling local jurisdictions what is good. Let the communities determine what is best for them. We are constantly getting subjected to laws that are designed to address issues in other areas of the State. Be aware of the law of ‘unintended consequences’. Someone at the State can’t determine what is good for local jurisdictions

State can improve communication with Cecil County and can improve communication among the various State agencies as well

Interested in a database of best planning practices and examples that locals could access and use

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Planning

County is up for 10-year review of comprehensive plan in 2020. Would like to be informed of any changes to the comp plan law or requirements. Happy with their current comp plan

Appreciate the open dialogue of A Better Maryland

Concerned with individual property rights and rightful County authority

There is currently a lot of positive energy in Rising Sun, and the Regional Planner has been very helpful

Rising Sun concerned because it is not in the Cecil County growth area

Can’t convert municipal growth areas to preservation areas, as it cripples a town. Rising Sun a current example

Cecil believes in Smart Growth, but from a different perspective

It is not Kent County, surrounded by growth pressures from population centers and major transportation corridors

Not an Eastern Shore County

Greenfield developments are typical here, with water and sewer in place to accommodate

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General

We could use technical assistance and perhaps doing white papers on the following – Solar Farms, Broadband, and Chicken Farms. It is hard for local jurisdictions to get accurate facts and how other jurisdictions have handled these issues

Assets

County recently bought the Bittersweet Golf Course, which it plans to develop into a park. County has been a true steward of the land

County recently streamlined permitting and planning processes, which has so far been successful

Rural landscape, shared culture, like minded folks

Importance of property rights

Diverse and unique geography

Desire to engage and move forward

Challenges

Opioid Crisis (Far and away the most frequently indicated challenge at public meeting)

Affects all parts of the community

Need to fix problem as it hurts economy and businesses

Need a set of goals for the State which requires State agencies to work together on this issue

National problem with doctors and pharmaceutical companies as big players

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