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Planning & Zoning shaping town’s future

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(4/5) The Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Commission continued reviewing the draft comprehensive plan at its March 14 meeting. The topics of discussion seemed to focus more on how the town will physically look in the future.

Community Facilities and Services

The plan recommends designating a site for a new middle school in Emmitsburg.

“The county currently does not have a plan for a school,” said Sarah Franklin, senior associate with Jakubiak and Associates. “It’s been in your plan to have a site reserved for a school.”

Commission member Catherine Forrence pointed out that by her estimate, Emmitsburg would need 11,000 townhouses, 9,000 single-family homes or some combination of the two to have enough students in the town to justify a middle school. She suggested that the town consider a preK-8 school, which wouldn’t necessarily need a middle school as large as would be needed if it was a stand-alone school.

“It just seems like it might suit everyone to talk about the expansion of the campus we have now,” Forrence said.

The plan also calls for a new park on the north side of town where additional development is expected to occur in the future.

Community Design and Historic Preservation

The plan calls for continuing Emmitsburg’s historic village appearance since it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Franklin said churches and institutional buildings should be preserved and restored. Forrence added that the town’s historic cemeteries should also be preserved.

Franklin said that land for a public park and institutional/civic building should be reserved in Irishtown Road between Emmitsburg Road and Brookfield.

The plan also calls for, “Undeveloped areas along South Seton Avenue should develop in institutional uses in park-like setting. Buildings should be setback far back from South Seton Avenue in ways comparable to FEMA and St. Catherine’s.”

Boundaries

“No annexation south of Toms Creek or west of Middle Creek should occur before 2030,” Franklin said.

Development outside of the municipal growth boundary should be allowed to occur only where there are overriding municipal objects that need to be met.

At the end of the meeting, some citizens and lawyers spoke to specific proposals. Bruce Dean representing a client who has property that plan calls for specific development on.

“To say, put a church or park we feel that’s a violation of my client’s property rights,” Dean said.

David Thaler, representing the Daughters of Charity, said the plan didn’t seem to address how the town’s “three big engines of growth” – the Daughters of Charity, U.S. Fire Academy and Mount Saint Mary’s University – will affect growth in the town.

The Planning and Zoning Committee will continue discussing aspects of the plan and is considering holding a joint workshop with the town commissioners about the plan. The comprehensive plan is Emmitsburg blueprint for development over the next 25 years.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government