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Emmitsburg comprehensive plan update moves forward

Ingrid Mezo

Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Committee members on Monday discussed changes to the town’s comprehensive plan update, intended to guide development for 20 years.

The plan is more user-friendly since the town hired consulting firm Jakubiak and Associates, said Mayor James Hoover.

It was supposed to be completed two years ago, but staffing difficulties delayed the project.

Besides the formatting changes, two new changes the plan is taking into consideration is making the town a certified Heart of the Civil War area, and the fact that he town is now part of the National Scenic Byway and working with a group called Journey Through Hallowed Ground.

‘‘I think we’re finally heading in the right direction,” Hoover said. ‘‘The whole concept of it, I’m so far satisfied with. With the motivation they’re going at now, I would think that within the next 60-90 days, we the town council should have the opportunity to start working on it.”

Hoover said he anticipated a December completion date.

Now, though the town’s comprehensive plan is behind schedule, Hoover said he actually would have liked to see the Frederick County Thurmont Region Plan update, which also behind schedule, completed first.

‘‘Well, I would have liked to see the Thurmont Region Plan done first, so we could see what the county has planned first. In some cases, the county is going to supercede our efforts.”

‘‘The county has set zoning regulations around us,” Hoover said. ‘‘When we go to annex something, we have to go before the Board of County Commisioners.”

With the county’s comprehensive plan for the area, the town can now change to any zoning it would like, so long as it proves there was a change in the community. That becomes a lot more difficult, Hoover said.

‘‘Right now, there is no mistake. We’ve had a change of heart,” he said. ‘‘Our growth line is pretty large, probably much larger than we really need.”

The plan’s growth line has not changed from before, and goes all the way up to the Pennsylvania line, he added. ‘‘I haven’t seen anything yet, where they have decided to change that.”

Over the next month or so, Planning and Zoning Board members will continue to hash out a draft of a plan to present to the town board.

One of the difficulties they are facing is that some of their demographic numbers have been calculated differently, said Sarah Franklin of Jakubiak and Associates.

Old demographic values are based on census data, while new values are projected, she said.

In addition, the median income for the ZIP code is different from the median income for the municipality.

Committee member Larry Little pointed out that the committee’s findings on traffic flow through town were much smaller than when he had a traffic study performed when he bought a business in the area. He said he also had some concerns with the sidewalk section of the plan.

In addition, he referred to a section of the draft dealing with school capacity. Values that show when a school is overcapacity in some cases state that a school meets capacity requirements, though portables are present at the school. In other cases, any schools that have portables are considered overcapacity.

‘‘Every year we beat this to death,” Little said. ‘‘Somebody is not telling the truth.”

Committee president Rich Kapriva said that in his opinion, when there are mobile units at a school, it is overcapacity. ‘‘But I’m not sure the county is looking at it that way,” he said.

Resident Catherine Forrence said the town needed to coordinate with neighboring Thurmont to get a bypass.

In addition, she asked why no goals were spelled out yet in the draft, to which Kapriva responded the goals are forthcoming.

Commissioner Chris Staiger, who attended the meeting as a resident of the town, told the committee members not to be intimated by criticism received by the mayor.

‘‘The revision of the plan is really in your hands,” he said. ‘‘...Go about your business and don’t let the hullabaloo [confound] you.”

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