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Planning Director's Blog - May 2015

Last Updated on Jun 1, 2015 at 2:09pm | Department of Planning & Land Management

The focus of this month’s blog is on Chapter 4: Deep Creek Lake Influence Area Master Plan.  The 2004 Deep Creek Watershed Economic Growth and Planning Analysis Study (the “Watershed Study”) recommended that a Deep Creek Master Plan be developed to

Guide the type, location, and design of future growth and development in the Deep Creek Lake area and provide a long-term guide for public and private decisions affecting development and conservation.

Chapter 4 of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan responds to that recommendation, as well as several others in the 2004 Watershed Study.  In particular, the chapter evaluates the Lake area’s capacity to accommodate new growth, in terms of available land, water resources (drinking water, wastewater treatment capacity, and stormwater management), traffic, and public services.
 
The Deep Creek Lake Influence Area includes the entirety of the Deep Creek watershed, plus some areas outside the watershed that directly impact the roads and community services in the Lake area.  The Influence Area was analyzed for land use and development trends, and impacts of growth on transportation, public sewer and water quality.  Recommendations were based on a perceived need to reduce development capacity.  Capacity analyses projected growth through 2030 to add 24,160 new residential units.   However, the projected growth estimates used in the 2008 document were based on a thriving housing market from the years prior to the publication of the document.  Shortly afterwards the market took a decided downturn.  The growth that was expected over the last 10 years has not occurred and new projections calculated during the upcoming Comprehensive Plan review will be based on a much more sedate market.
 
In addition, as discussed in last month’s blog, the 2012 Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act, according to the latest development capacity analysis conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning, has decreased projected residential growth countywide by 56%.  Though calculations for just the Deep Creek watershed or influence area have yet to be done, it is logical to assume the projected growth numbers in the Deep Creek watershed will decrease as well.  Approximately 2/3 of the watershed is classified as Tier 3 or Tier 4, which will fall under certain restrictions for major subdivisions.  In Tier 4 areas major subdivisions are not allowed, while in Tier 3 major subdivisions are allowed, but a more in-depth review process and public hearing is required before approval.  This Act will heavily influence the location and distribution of future growth in the watershed.
 
The policy and action recommendations found in Chapter 4 are below.  What has happened with these particular recommendations are in italics after the recommendation.
 
  • Use the Land Use Plan Map as the basis for revisions to the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance.  This is complete.
  • Amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance. These amendments were partially completed.
  • Extend the McHenry growth area (PFA) and Town Residential land classification to include the properties near the intersection of US 219 and MD 42, but do not extend zoning to these properties. This is complete.
  • Construct roadway and pedestrian/bicycle circulation improvements, to include new traffic signals on US 219 at Sang Run Road and Rock Lodge Road, improved wayfinding signage in McHenry, and transportation and circulation system improvements for McHenry and Thayerville.  Some circulation improvements were completed in the McHenry area.
  • Implement the following transportation-related strategies:
    • Amend the Subdivision Regulations to give the Department of Planning & Zoning clear authority (in consultation with the Roads Department) to require a traffic impact study prior to final plat approval. This is complete.
    • Ensure that MD SHA has the opportunity to review and comment on traffic studies related to development near state roads.  This is complete.
    • Work with MD SHA to develop an access management plan for US 219 in the Influence Area, focusing specifically on the portion of the highway that passes through McHenry.  This is not complete.
    • Develop a County-maintained access management strategy for Glendale Road, Deep Creek Drive, Mosser Road and Sang Run Road.  This is not complete.
    • Consider establishing transit service in the McHenry area for busy summer and winter seasons, incorporating or building on the existing Wisp shuttle. This is not complete.
  • Work with SHA to add the transportation improvements recommended above to the Highway Needs Inventory (HNI) and Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP).  This is not complete.
  • Conduct a study to determine the amount of revenue necessary to fund the transportation system improvements, including (but not limited to) the road, pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and other strategies described in this Master Plan.  Obtain authority from the Maryland General Assembly to levy an excise tax, and establish such an excise tax (or an impact fee, if an excise tax is not desirable) to pay for these improvements.  This is not complete.  The County is, however, seeking funding for a Garrett County Transportation Plan and a list of projects needed with their relative priority ranking and estimated funding would be a part of that effort.
  • As part of the next Comprehensive Plan update, evaluate the need to expand the Deep Creek WWTP to its full 3.9 MGD capacity.  The current Water & Sewer Master Plan evaluated the needs and determined that while the site could accommodate a total of 3.9 MGD such an expansion will not be needed through 2023.
  • Update the Water & Sewerage Master Plan as follows:
    • Expand the McHenry water system.  Analysis in the most recent Water & Sewer Master Plan determined that the McHenry system has enough capacity for current demand, but may need expanded by 2023.
    • Define a new Thayerville water service area.  Consider extending the Thayerville water service area to include the commercial nodes along US 219 at Mayhew Inn Rd and Sand Flat Rd.  The Thayerville system has been defined and future expansion south to the intersection at Sand Flat is in the latest Water & Sewer Master Plan.
  • Develop public access points at various locations around Deep Creek Lake.  Additional locations for public access are being discussed between the County and DNR, as per the recommendations found in the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan.
  • Support relocation of the McHenry Fire Department to the area near the Public Safety Complex.  This is not complete. The McHenry Fire Department recently made improvements at their current location.
  • Work with DNR to continue monitoring of water quality in Deep Creek Lake.  This is continuing, especially with the advent of the Deep Creek Watershed Management Plan.
  • Adopt a more proactive stance toward management and enforcement by hiring a zoning inspector, increasing state inspection and enforcement of stormwater management and sediment and erosion control standards, and issuing citations for illegal parking on public streets.  This is not complete.
  • Support efforts to retain and attract waterfront businesses.  This is not complete.
 What recommendations do you have for this area?  How have the needs changed since the above recommendations were developed?  What new needs have surfaced?  Participate in the Comprehensive Review process next year and bring your ideas.

Next month’s blog will highlight Chapter 5 of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan: Water Resources Element.