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Kent County Listening Sessions, January 30, 2018

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism and Regional Planning  ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support and Data ♦ Economic Development ♦ Youth ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Community Engagement and Volunteerism ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Funding ♦ Neighboring Jurisdictions ♦ Communication ♦ 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

County will be updating its Comprehensive plan (March 2018) stressing agriculture as the preferred land use, supporting tourism, and expansion of local employers where appropriate

Kent County and Queen Anne’s County have historically disagreed on the Chester River Bridge project; however it is now believed that Queen Anne’s County is not against the project

Kent County does not want a Bay Bridge crossing coming through Kent County

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

County needs micro changes, nothing big, things are going well. County will send list of small projects that could have a big impact.

One Maryland doesn’t work, need to recognize uniqueness of different areas of the State. Support local maritime uses, support agriculture, support work against sprawl.

More de-regulation and flexibility to maximize economic development of existing marinas

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Mapping Support and Data

Better economic data on agriculture and agricultural data needs to be provided in order to demonstrate the economic strength and positive impact of agriculture and supporting industries. Limited available date doesn’t paint a complete picture of the County’s economy

The equivalent of the Tourism Impact Report, but for agriculture, hasn’t been completed since 2008. An updated one is needed

Input drives decisions

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Demographics

Chestertown’s growth is level. Today, the population of Kent County is similar to what it was in 1812

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Economic Development

Agriculture is the number one economic driver in the County, it is the primary resource and industry. (Reiterated many times by participants)

The Dixon Valve development and expansion is a great example of the kind of economic development the County is looking for

State grants came through the Town of Chestertown

Effective Town and County partnership, with significant assistance from the Maryland Department of Planning Regional Planner

Kent is a small County, but it appreciated the attention from the State that this project received

County has targeted areas for growth and development and resisted change to agriculture areas

Need to embrace technology – solar and wind projects in the right locations

County will mostly see incremental small growth in local businesses vs. some large employer coming into the County

Agriculture, scenic rural landscapes and historic heritage are the County’s greatest assets

Getting types of jobs appropriate for County is critical. Large high-density employers will not come to the County need to support local and small businesses

Schools and hospital are anchors of community and need to be grown and supported. Hospital is in danger of closing, all births are in hospitals outside of County

Business investment is tied to jobs and schools

There is a lot of interest in the new Chestertown marina and in the Dixon Valve project, but also for preserving rural land

Biggest employers are the hospital, Dixon Valve, and Washington College

Even incremental improvements make a big difference in Kent County

Potential for equestrian industry and major facility

Marina industry is very important

Need a little flexibility with environmental regulations, especially because they have preserved much ag land

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Youth

Biggest export is children due to lack of jobs. County is aging because children don’t stay

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Infrastructure

Internet service critical. County has invested $6m of its own money into internet.

Need better cell phone coverage

Smart Growth policies to direct growth to Towns, hurt the County, don’t hold us back from allowing low density residential development in rural areas

Doesn’t work in smaller less dense counties

County doesn’t have a population density that makes water and sewer infrastructure projects efficient, sensible, and affordable

Challenged in meeting its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements

Attracting small business to expand need help with infrastructure

County supports fixing local rail where it supports agriculture and also converting rails to trails where possible

Support Chester River Blvd. By-pass and new Chester River bridge. By-pass will not hurt Chestertown as the town is a destination and pass through traffic hurts the City. The Chester River Blvd. is the County’s highest transportation priority

Challenge is a lack of infrastructure buildout to support economic development projects such as Dixon Valve

There is no population growth to plan for, so infrastructure falls behind

Concern about the biggest wind turbines over 500 feet in height

Working on a smart city plan

Bury phone lines in in Downtown Chestertown Historic District. Would require significant state agency assistance

Chestertown water and sewer lines need to be replaced

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Community Engagement and Volunteerism

The Kent County Conservation and Preservation Alliance is prominent

Well educated and organized

Completely oppose a bay bridge crossing

Kent County is very good at saying “No”

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Transportation

Kent County and Queen Anne’s County have historically disagreed on the Chester River Blvd. project however it is believed that Queen Anne’s County is no longer against the project

Kent County does not want a Bay Bridge crossing coming through County

Concerned about Bill that would overturn existing law that five of nine Eastern Shore Counties need to approve any toll road. This was mentioned a few times

Concerned with increase traffic from Middletown, DE by-pass

Active railbed in Kent County is currently updating. Southern States is putting in new rail spurs

Transportation drives land use

Desire for Chestertown Bypass

Chester River Bridge is strained

Too much traffic in the National Landmark Historic District

Public safety issue. EMS services disrupted with bridge closure

Would be positive for economic development

Queen Anne’s County no longer opposes the bypass

If designed correctly, and the County holds firm on land use, then the negative affect on downtown businesses could be avoided

Chestertown is a destination, not a pass through. People come there on purpose

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Environment

County has unique maritime and land environment, including bald eagles, and vibrant arts and culture

People value Kent’s natural resources

Would be detrimental for the State to overly streamline regulations and development processes

Must balance needs

Sustainable growth planned along the northern 301 corridor, need help with infrastructure to encourage local business to grow and expand. Wetlands and sewer issues are constraints

Could be a vital asset for the County and raise local income levels

Need help with environmental regulations WIP, TMDL. Secretary Grumbles has been a big help to the County

Sometimes, where appropriate faster more streamlined permitting should be used

Rural land should not be defined as open land, it is being actively used

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Community

County has good planning, good town planning, strong rural preservation, good place to live and work

Vibrant arts and cultural community

Most residents are very happy with the County. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

Chestertown is converting railbeds to trails

Presents a problem because the trail passes through ag land. Farmers are hesitant about this and the potential for incompatible farming practices (ie. spraying)

Town wants to extend the trails to Worton, where schools are located

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Funding

Need funding for small local development projects

 Help with retaining hospital

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Neighboring Jurisdictions

Continue interjurisdictional cooperation with PFA’s, Septic Tiers, PPA’s etc.

More collaboration with feasibility and impact studies, such as, the Queen Anne’s County Northern 301 Traffic Study. The state could help jurisdictions work together on these

Need for Middletown Bypass impact study

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Communication

Want to be informed of process for, progress of, and all decisions made regarding the Bay Bridge crossing

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What the County is Missing

Upgrade schools

Improve hospital and hospital services

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State Agencies

Chestertown Marina and Dixon Valve good examples of State agencies working together to solve issues

Better collaboration within and among State agencies

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Technical Assistance

MDP can help with technical studies such as the 301 corridor. Bringing groups together, being more inclusive and having a regional approach

Designing infrastructure

Create State Navigator positions to help local government staff and residents get to right agency for help or assistance

Like circuit riders, develop local plans and studies

Facilitate collaboration between Counties and towns – roads, economic development etc.

Help get teachers and doctors to come to County

With the hospital

Currently all meetings of the hospital board are in Easton and decisions are Easton centric

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Planning

Chestertown is proud of its comprehensive plan

The public mobilized for it and for other planning issues

Anticipating a plan update next year

Kent County just completed its comprehensive plan update (March 2018)

Stressed importance of agriculture and large contiguous tracts of land

Prosperity of agriculture is very important to the County and supports its tourism industry

Want sustainable growth

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General

Kent County is a destination

People drive through Cecil County (I-95) and Queen Anne’s County (To Ocean City) but they come to Kent County for a specific purpose

County embraces technology

First to take on solar farms, which pay for their own wastewater infrastructure operations

Assets

Agriculture and Ag Preservation

History

Cultural Resources

Support for Waterman culture

Environment

Heritage and Historic Resources

Bay Resources

Domestic Food Production

Aquaculture

Challenges

Potential Bay Bridge Crossing (Mentioned 10 + times)

Preservation

Jobs

Balance

Healthcare. Hospital needs to remain open

Diversity in representation

Flight of youth and young families

Need safe bike path to Worton

Infrastructure

Funding for new restaurants and a commercial kitchen

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