(2/15) The Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning
Commission is beginning to work through a draft of the town comprehensive plan
that, when approved by the town commissioners, will lay out the plan for
Emmitsburg’s development for the next 25 years.
“As a guide, this Comprehensive Plan
allows Emmitsburg to make day-to-day development decisions on the basis of
reasoned and adopted policies, rather than on the individual merits of
proposals,” the plan reads.
The Dispatch obtained a copy of the
84-page draft through a freedom of information request. Here’s a look at some
of the items of interest.
After Emmitsburg’s fast-growing decade in the 1990s when it grew faster than
Frederick County (3.1 percent a year vs. 2.66 percent), growth has leveled off
to its pre-1990 levels. Even so, the town’s projected population over the 30
years since 2000 is expected to more than double, to 4,875 residents.
Emmitsburg is also becoming a town of new
residents versus “old-timers.” The draft plan notes, “Six out of every ten
persons added to the population since 1960 were added between 1980 and 2000.”
This does not mean that the residents
aren’t older, however. About 21.4 percent of the town’s population are senior
citizens, as compared to 9.6 percent countywide. The draft plan attributes some
of this difference to the fact that senior group quarters like St. Catherine’s
and Villa St. Michaels account for much of the living space in Emmitsburg.
The draft plan notes that among Emmitsburg’s 116 businesses, “The Town differs
from the County in that the County has a relatively large number of businesses
in Professional, Scientific, and Technical services while the Town has more
Religious and Automotive establishments which make up the Other Services
Also, employment opportunities in town are more than double the number of
available workers, though only 18 percent of the town’s workforce actually work
Between 1998 and 2003, the number of jobs
in town increased from 1,955 to 2,486. That’s a 27 percent increase for
Emmitsburg compared to a 24 percent increase in Frederick County during the
same time period.
“Despite the higher levels of employment
within the area, the median income for Emmitsburg is lower than that of nearby
municipalities as well as significantly lower than the County as a whole.
Factors that contribute to this likely include a relatively low labor force
participation rate along with the presence of college students and senior
citizens,” the draft report reads.
The draft plan recommends that the area
along Creamery Road be gradually transformed from industrial uses to light
industrial and business park uses “which are more compatible with an in-town
location and the surrounding institutional and residential uses.”
More than half of the housing units in Emmitsburg are single-family homes and
slightly less than 6 percent are vacant.
The average age of a house in Emmitsburg
is 68 years.
In recent years, the number of permitted
housing units in town has been growing at a rate of about 32 a year, but these
are more-expensive homes and not generally considered workforce housing.
Within the town boundaries, the draft plan
notes, “Emmitsburg has infill potential for about 200 additional units at a
density of 3.5 units per acres within the Town boundary.”
The draft notes that the town’s growth
will be accelerating. “It is projected that between 2009 and 2030 new units
will be added at a rate of about 40 unites per year, or 840 new households in
total. By 2030, the Town may be expected to have approximately 1,950
For future development, the report states,
“Development in the floodplains along Tom’s Creek, Flat Run, and Middle Creek
is to be avoided due to the increased potential of flooding when vegetation is
removed from the stream buffer.”
Currently, Emmitsburg has about 60 houses,
located in Brookfield and Southgate, in its development pipeline.
The plan recommends no new rural
residential zoning within the town’s municipal growth boundary. However, being
within the boundary does not mean the property is within the town limits.
Because of this, the county government could still issue rural residential
permits. If so, the draft plan recommends not extending water and sewer
services to the lots.
Areas for future residential development
should expand to the north, filling the area between Brookfield and Route 15.
Other residential development should be between Mountain View Road and
The traffic on Route 140 in the Emmitsburg area has increased 149 percent
between 1980 and 2005. To help alleviate this traffic, a new bypass alignment
is suggested for the town.
Emmitsburg Mountain View Parkway would
begin near the Md.-Pa. line and follow Mountain View Road. It would then
continue across a new road across Annandale Road to South Seton. From there, it
would continue eastbound along Route 15.
“The recommended parkway is preferred
because [it] is less disruptive to sensitive environmental features,
agricultural lands, and to existing residential uses, it can be made part of a
land use development plan and thus is farm more likely to be implemented,
directs traffic into arrangements that can have a positive economic benefit to
the Town, provides a more direct routing to U.S. 15, and it is more compatible
with small town character and the land use plan recommend herein,” the plan
The bypass would include one lane in each
direction, with median strips separating the lanes from sidewalks and bicycle
lanes and from each other. The bypass speed limit would be 35 miles per hour.
Overpasses are also proposed sometime in
the future for the North and South Seton interchanges with Route 15.
The draft report notes that the compactness of the town creates good potential
for mixed used communities and the efficient use of infrastructure.
“Emmitsburg’s geographic location makes it
a prime candidate for adopting ecological principles into its planning
decisions,” the report states. The town should seek to create interconnected
green corridors and parks.
The plan also recommends that the town
apply to become a Main Street Maryland community and adopt an adequate public
The comprehensive plan was last updated in
1998. This draft plan will be discussed and altered by the planning commission
and then sent on to the commissioners for their debate and approval.
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