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Garrett County Listening Sessions, November 6, 2017

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support ♦ Concern over Growth Tier Map requirements ♦ Economic Development ♦ Deep Creek Lake ♦ Youth are Leaving the County ♦ Housing ♦ Infrastructure ♦ Engaging the Public and Volunteerism ♦ Regional Planning ♦ Training and Education ♦ Communication ♦ What the County is Missing ♦ Community Engagement ♦ Other

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.


The SDP should take a regional focus. One size does not fit all.

There is need to recognize uniqueness of each county.

Consider modifying Smart Growth for rural areas.

PFA law in rural areas needs to work differently with lower density standards than in more urban areas.

Need to recognize rural areas are not growing and, in many cases, have declining populations.

More effort is needed in researching rural distinctions

Transportation needs in rural areas are different from more urbanized areas.

While SHA may not support bypasses, Oakland’s Route 219 bypass from the northern city limits to MD 135 is needed to promote economic development and facilitate easier vehicle movement in the downtown.

Need to look at rural Transit Oriented Development in a different way than more urbanized areas. A transit stop could serve as a TOD center.

Redistricting did not help retaining local representation in US Congress to understand the issues in rural Maryland.

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

More carrot, less stick.

Focus on revitalization efforts to make areas where you want people to live be more attractive.

Would like the comprehensive plan requirement for a “Development Capacity Analysis” not be required for counties with little or no growth, or at least take into account development constraints such as steep slopes and market demand.

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Mapping Support

Used to have more local government GIS support under the Maryland Local Government GIS Committee (MLOGIC) Program, which facilitated a strong collaboration between state and local. The current MSGIC doesn’t provide as much support to local governments.

They do not want more GIS mapping mandates.

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Concern over Growth Tier Map requirements

During the County’s comprehensive planning process, they do not want the Growth Tier Map to override the County’s long standing use of its subdivision land use map as the guide for future growth in the county, especially since they don’t have zoning.

Garrett County is not growing. There is little demand for rural housing. So, there should not have been a need to create a Tier Map, but to allow major residential subdivisions on septic, the county had to adopt one.

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Economic Development

Obtaining PFA designation for the Lowes store highlighted the frustration with the state PFA approval process. The county observed the state’s inflexibility and unwillingness to support local needs.

Flexibility and willingness to work with locals is a key need for better state level planning.

There is a great desire for economic development to serve the local population, not just vacationers or those visiting the lake.

Economic development issues are different in rural areas. Help is needed with infrastructure such as building an access street, or small spec building is needed. These are small projects yet important to the County.

Lack of transportation options a big Economic Development barrier.

Would like to expand demand and response public transit.

Hard to meet grant requirements when county doesn’t have routed and fixed transit.

Rural areas need public transit because they are poorer.

There are some promising economic development opportunities:

Three prospects for McHenry Business Park.

The Oakland hospital could see potential growth to serve the aging population and regional needs, but need trained labor force for the medical related jobs.

The fracking ban did not help.

Problem finding skilled labor force. There are hard and soft skills that people need to know for a job.

The current One Maryland Program does not provide assist to the many distressed small towns in Garrett County because the wealthier Deep Creek residential areas skew the county’s overall numbers to the point that the county does not appear “distressed.” But, several small towns away from Deep Creek have significant poverty and unemployment and could use the economic incentives of One Maryland.

County needs a more diversified economy.

Consider West Virginia’s “Generation West Virginia” model to incentive employers to hire young people, attract them to come back to live and work in the county.

Garrett County has an aging population of those living here and younger folks are leaving the County for jobs elsewhere.

The need for manufacturing jobs is a concern.

Affordable housing is challenge here too.

Endogenous economic development the most important and most sorely needed in county, ie entrepreneurship.

What happens when environmental needs conflict with economic development needs? It always comes down to a political decision.

Need for better access to affordable broadband is a high priority.

Need to recognize the uniqueness of Garrett County and capture it in A better Maryland.

Need to review existing legislation and its impact on Garrett County.

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Deep Creek Lake

Huge disparity between lake area and the rest of county.

Skews economic stats and demographics.

ACS numbers should not be only socio-economic statistical source required for grant applications, as the numbers from the Deep Creek area skewed the indicators and masks the real need in Garrett County.

There is a need to explore alternative ways to provide statistically valid information about the unique characteristics of small towns and not have the information skewed by more populous or wealthier communities. Deep Creek Lake does not represent Garrett County. The lake area skews the county’s demographics such as income, housing values etc.

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Garrett County youth are leaving the county and are not coming back

Desire to grow Oakland to help convince youth the stay and/or come back.

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Need for affordable, workforce housing.

Workforce housing is needed in the County. Tax credits based on Statewide requirements do not often work for rural areas such as the provision of transit for rural areas is demand response based.

Garrett County Community Action Agency has a large proposed development in Oakland, but they need tax credits to make the project economically viable. Rural areas cannot compete for grants when for example fixed route transit is not available.

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Underdeveloped infrastructure, and the capacity to pay for new infrastructure, are continuous problems in the county.

Consider a review and overhaul of the PFA law to accommodate the development challenges and infrastructure needs of rural Maryland.

Addressing infrastructure needs such as municipal water and sewer is not economically viable for small towns due to the cost versus the revenue, yet this is where services should be provided.

Review water appropriation limitations in some towns that have precluded development opportunities.

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Engaging the Public and Volunteerism

There is a need to build volunteer capacity. Need to promote volunteerism.

County could use help with this.

It is always the same people around the table discussing community needs.

County needs to work on a unified vision for where it wants to go, what it wants to be.

There needs to be single vision and coordination of plans – Comprehensive Plans, Revitalization Plans, Sustainable Communities Plan etc.

There appears to be lack of coordination and implementation between the local comprehensive plan, the Sustainable Community Action Plan, and other community level planning/projects.

Given the limited local funding, very little community development planning is occurring. The local planning commissions are not engaged in these types of planning efforts. Given limited professional planning staff, these types of planning efforts are not taking place. The Community Action Agencies provides the professional planning support through its circuit rider program, but there is much greater need than resources available.

Local planning commissions need more support and training.

Barriers to engagement.

Deep Creek residents tend to focus on only the lake area.

The younger generation is not engaged.

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Regional Planning

The Maryland Department of Planning’s Regional planners do a lot to help the county and its municipalities. The state should provide more of them and enhance their resources.

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Training and Education

More training needed and certification classes should be offered out west, such as those required for contractors and miners.

Training programs could be provided on a variety of topics including how to run a meeting etc.

There needs to be training for Planning Commissioners. Planning Commissions do not meet regularly.

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Communication issue. There needs to be better communication between the State and Garrett County.

The Maryland Department of Planning should go directly to towns through Garrett County Municipalities, Inc (GCM) for contact info.

Results of outreach should be posted on the web site. Keep people informed of the process.

There needs to be civic engagement and participation in the process.

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What county is missing

Better access to health care.

A stronger economy and more jobs are closely related to education in Garrett.

Tourism not a sufficient source for true economic development.

Need a family living wage.

Lack of housing and transportation. Need for workforce housing.

Need to develop programs for increased workforce housing.

The County needs good paying family supporting jobs. Qualified workers are also needed for the jobs that do come to the County.

Stronger civic engagement with open processes for true community planning.

Public is apprehensive about participation.

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Community Engagement

When we participate in community planning we do not see a positive response indicating that people are listening.

Garrett County Health department has a digital platform for community education and engagement at that is very popular.

Lack of transparency at the planning level; need more communication.

Lack of confidence that government is listening.

A Better Maryland should access other community input from sources such as:

The Women’s Coalition, and

Review of citizen input during the PlanMaryland process.

Garrett County citizens are not indifferent.

People care and want a process they can buy into.

Need a workshop on civil discourse.

The Maryland Department of Planning needs to provide more notice of meetings and engagement opportunities.

Publish information collected at meetings!

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Don’t have access to Maryland media.

Need to integrate A Better Maryland topics and strategies. They cannot be siloed.

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