“Rural Character” as defined in our Comprehensive Plan means “the absence of . . . large commercial or residential development.”
Dear Members of the Talbot County Planning
Commission My wife and I are 27-year residents of Talbot County.
The existing Trappe Sewer Service Map put forth in Resolution 348 shows Lakeside unchanged. It is the developer’s original map! If approved by the Planning Commission without change, our County will have no authority to oversee the future development of Lakeside. The developer will be free to build 2,500 units without any County oversight! The thought that this naked result is consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan is laughable.
As you well know, a “primary goal” of our Plan is “to preserve the rural character of our County.” “Rural character” is defined in the Plan to mean “the absence of strip malls or retail outlets . . . and large commercial or residential developments.” Where is the ambiguity about this?
MDE directed the County to adopt a new “Sewer Service Map” for Trappe (the document that authorized the Lakeside project), to correct past mistakes “as the County deems necessary.” Under Maryland Law, the County can only adopt a map that the Commission has determined to be consistent with our Comprehensive Plan.
The Lakeside Project is underway. The die has been cast partially (albeit, without any thought about the impact on County finances,
infrastructure or services). As a practical matter, the Planning Commission has no responsible choice other than to take action on a revised, more limited Sewer Service Map, so that the County will retain authority to oversee the impact of Lakeside for consistency as it progresses and may be built in stages. This is the critical issue!
We urge the Planning Commission to consider a revised Sewer Service Map for Trappe that identifies only Section 1A of that subdivision (120 homes) as “S-1 immediate priority” and specifies in a new CWSP Amendment that all portions of Lakeside other than Section 1A revert to “Unprogrammed” status (i.e., as shown in the Trappe Sewer Service Area (Figure 23) in the 2002 CWSP).
Perhaps more than 120 houses have already been built. The Commission could follow the lead of MDE. The developer asked MDE for a sewage permit to accommodate the entire development (570,000 gallons of wastewater). Instead, MDE issued a permit for only 100,000 gpd effluent, adequate to service perhaps 550 homes instead of 2501. The Commission could similarly amend the Map to reduce this phase of Lakeside by the same proportion (80%), and thereby require further development to be evaluated for consistency based on experience.
The Planning Commission is the custodian of land use in Talbot County. It is required by law to be guided by our Comprehensive Plan. A new Comprehensive Plan will be developed in 2026. Previously, many citizens contributed to the development of our Plans. But what level of citizen participation will be forthcoming in years to come if it is shown that stated values and words mean little when the Planning Commission discharges its land use responsibilities?
Mike & Margot McConnel