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Worcester County Listening Sessions, December 19, 2017

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism  ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support ♦ Demographics ♦ Economic Development ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Engaging the Public and Volunteerism ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Neighboring Jurisdictions ♦ Communication ♦ What the County is Missing ♦ State Agencies ♦ Technical Assistance ♦ Permitting ♦ Planning ♦ Growth ♦ 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

In this region, there is a lot of diversity among municipalities and their abilities that needs to be recognized

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

Relationship with the State has been strained in the past

We appreciate the Governor’s bottom up approach in A Better Maryland

Local jurisdictions don’t need more regulations

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Mapping Support

Smaller jurisdictions need GIS support and access, which they cannot afford to develop on their own

Want to have capacity to show developers what has happened in the community in the past 10 years and know where we are in real time without compromising security

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Demographics

Ocean City’s census classification under-represents its true population in the context of seasonal residential impacts. This hinders access to grant funding because the demographics are skewed (mentioned a couple times)

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Economic Development

Snow Hill

Jobs need to move into town to support business

Needs more residents

Snow Hill’s new tag line: “Small Town, Big Adventure”

Offer incentives to fix up businesses and homes

Community legacy grants are great

Festivals and folk festivals support tourism and attract people

Streamline process for getting businesses open, improve permitting

Tourism a big driver of the local economy

State could help promoting and funding festivals in small towns at an appropriate scale

Need more consistency in liquor board and food truck licensing across jurisdictions to best plan and promote festivals

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Infrastructure

Ocean City is in a redevelopment phase and is very proud of its accomplishments; specifically, how it maintained funding for and upgraded its infrastructure over the years to support economic development and growth

Potential conflict between environmental concerns (eg. sea level rise) and Ocean City’s interest in redevelopment and economic development

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Engaging the Public and Volunteerism

Lack of involved public anymore. Can’t get people to show up

The public may have just thrown its hands up

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Transportation

Roads look better with landscaping

Restore highway user fees to local jurisdictions

Bikeways and trails need to be incorporated into planning

Dualization of Route 113 both an asset and a concern

Asset: Assist with tourism.
Concern: Will increase access to sensitive areas.

Need to get people off Route 113 and onto Route 13

Access to Ocean City is very important, especially in emergency situations

Snow Hill has very poor street conditions

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Environment

Open space and a clean environment will attract tourism

We need to preserve the transition from town to rural

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Community

This is a unique County with a lot of diversity – rural to Ocean City, has good small towns

Its location near water, Ocean city, Assateague, Salisbury and the University, natural resources, and hospitals provides abundant assets

Need to preserve our unique quality of life and maintain the rural feel of small towns

Ocean City is a large City built on tourism

The public has excellent access to Worcester elected officials

People live in Worcester by choice because of the strong quality of life

Individual citizen action a big driver of positive change in community. For example, seeing more people wanting to get involved in the Arts and Entertainment District in Snow Hill

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Neighboring Jurisdictions

Ocean City and the County are working together on annexations

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Communication

State needs to listen to the concerns and needs of local jurisdictions. These meetings are a good start and this dialogue needs to continue

State, local relationships are improving, more needs to be done

Good communication is how you get things done

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What the County is Missing

Opening areas for development where appropriate

Buildings in some of the smaller municipalities need repair and upgrading

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State Agencies

There needs to be better coordination between State agencies and local jurisdictions (mentioned a few times)

Jurisdictions don’t want a subservient relationship with the State. Municipalities want an equal, respectful partnership. Each community is finding its own way. End the stereotyping of this region

A Better Maryland should focus on how state agencies coordinate with each other and be modeled on coordination that is done at the local level

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Technical Assistance

Berlin wants assistance with developing long range growth areas and a greenbelt

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Permitting

Streamline process for getting businesses open to improve permitting

The public needs to be educated on permitting processes and how to submit an actionable application

Getting temporary liquor board permits is difficult at the County level

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Planning

Worcester County is very proud of all the work it has done in house, its robust GIS program and support of municipalities, and the strong work of its technical building code staff

Ocean City just completed its Comprehensive Plan and its strategic plan includes making the City a first-class tourist destination and a year-round community with good transportation

Planning needs to stay at the local level (mentioned multiple times)

Municipalities should be allowed to create their own aspirations, values, and goals

Worcester County is an example of good planning

County works closely with its municipalities and want this to be a model of how counties and the state can work together

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Growth

Jurisdictions need sustainable, incremental growth

Impact fees have really helped

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General

Want A Better Maryland to only be a tool and appreciate that it will not supersede any local authority

Suggestions, not mandates

A Better Maryland should address economic development, rural uses and agriculture, the environment, technical and legal support, and transportation

Concern that, no matter what the state says, A Better Maryland will demand a lot of work for planning directors when responding to requests from the public and elected officials

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