CENTREVILLE — The 2022 Queen Anne’s County Comprehensive Plan and Kent Narrows Community Plan were approved by the QA Commissioners May 25, marking the end of a long-drawn drafting, review, and editing process. A mammoth, wide-ranging document meant to be updated every 10 years, the county’s last comprehensive plan was completed in 2010.

The final chapters of the plan’s ratification — which was delayed 60 days following a mistake in publishing public notice — largely involved evaluating the county’s public facilities and curtailing development projects due to capacity constraints.

In total, the commissioners rejected three of the four comprehensive rezoning requests asking to expand different growth areas, land identified by the county as being most appropriate “for future growth and residential density.”

Despite disputes between the Planning Commission (which favored the requests) and the Technical Advisory Committee, the commissioners followed the advice of legal counsel which stated that because “there is no known technology to substantial increase” capacity at the Kent Narrows/Stevensville/Grasonville wastewater treatment plant, the county “cannot...take the position” that it has a plan to fix the problem.

Rejecting the requests, the commissioners left some room for reconsideration, adding language in the comprehensive plan resolution that said the plan may be adjusted if a sewer solution is discovered.

The commissioners similarly added that another request would be reviewed — this one from Chesterhaven Beach Partnership, which was granted sewer allocation in 1959 — should the landowners secure legal confirmation their lots were grandfathered as different land laws were established across the state and county.

Though the plans’ completion marked a major milestone for the county’s Planning and Zoning Department — which, along with contractors Wallace Montgomery, was thanked by community members for their diligence and thoroughness — the commissioners preceded their approval with an apology to the few property owners limited by sewer capacity.

“It’s bitter for me to have to be a part of a vote like this as a commissioners, but it is the tough vote we have to take,” said Commissioner Jack Wilson, criticizing past board actions that’ve led to facility constraints. “I guess the saying, ‘we have to pay for the the sins of our fathers’ is coming true [more] today than it ever could...to those that are getting pulled out, I apologize for having to take this vote and it’s one I wish I didn’t have to take.”

Commissioner Jim Moran said that while he was happy with the plan and thankful for the years of work that went into it, he felt the county should conduct an investigation into why it is the first jurisdiction to face this problem. He briefly mentioned legal action, saying he didn’t suspect the Environmental Protection Agency or Maryland Department of the Environment would listen to the county’s concerns otherwise.

“We cannot continue to stifle growth in Queen Anne’s County for the next 10 to 20 years while we hope that somewhere down the line, someone gives us allocation,” Moran said. “That’s, I think, one of the major problems we’re going to face here in the next 2 to 10 years.”

In response, QA Planning and Zoning Director Amy Moredock said her team was “dedicated” to coming up with solutions and resuming developments in the county’s growth areas.

“We’re in agreement that in our growth areas, where we want to see growth and have dedicated infrastructure, we can’t see ourselves in amber,” Moredock told the commissioners. “We hear the message loud and clear and we’ll continue to work hard on that.”

To view a digital copy of the plans, visit https://qacplan2021.com/resources.

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