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From the desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(11/1) As the Emmitsburg Town Council moves toward final approval of the Municipal Comprehensive Plan, I would like to take an opportunity to briefly recap my understanding of how our municipal plan relates to the county level plan. Much of this information was shared with the county commissioners in a previous e-mail.

First, following the county commissioners' October 6 review, it appears that the County and Emmitsburg Growth Boundaries are now in general agreement, with just a few areas of minor difference. I do not view any such issues as a source of conflict and understand further comment will be taken when the revised county maps are available.

Second, my understanding is that the county currently intends to apply agricultural zoning to properties within the Municipal Plan's growth area regardless of the Town's land use designations. Certainly this is at the county commissioners' discretion and any future municipal annexation applicants will need to deal with the impact of any resulting discrepancies. My goal in this process is to continue to lay out a twenty year municipal growth plan that provides a baseline for future local development.

This plan should:

  1. deliver something better than the suburban sprawl that has been realized in Emmitsburg over the past fifteen years,
  2. take place within the framework of a comprehensive Water and Sewer Capacity Management Plan, and,
  3. be responsive to (admittedly yet to be adopted) APFO requirements.

My recommendation to the Town Council will be that we adopt the relevant portions of the county's APFO in order to ensure that our standards do not conflict while allowing for municipal access to county resources when evaluating proposals.

My goal is to have the APFO process resolved in 2010 while also initiating the required changes to municipal zoning and development ordinances necessary to allow for preservation of existing assets, opportunities for commercial and mixed use development, and the maintenance of open space.

Third, I believe there has been much discussion of proposed roads that may appear on one plan but not the other. I understand that the county may feel it is inappropriate, if not misleading, to designate roads for which no county, state, or federal funds are available - or roads that the county feels have no prospect for completion within the timeframe of the plan in question.

I would respond, however, that road designations are appropriate on municipal plans if they lie within the municipal growth area and can reasonably be expected to be constructed as a part of developer supplied improvements.

I feel it is the local government's responsibility to designate these secondary routes in an effort to ease pressures on primary routes. Such designations also lay out our expectation of the final results of overall development that will be carried out by multiple groups over an extended time frame. In the end, as planners, we need to make sure we have puzzle pieces that fit together with each other and the pre-existing community. I feel that a lack of this type of guidance only provides loopholes and mediocre results.

Last, I would unequivocally oppose any county regulation of the development process within the municipality - whether through the 'Trojan Horse' of water management or otherwise.

Emmitsburg maintains its own water and sewer services, has crafted an accurate and responsible Water and Sewer Management Plan per state guidelines, and (I believe) fully intends to adopt county APFO requirements.

My expectation is that municipal adoption of county APFO requirements would provide the county with adequate protection for the resources that they provide - in our case, primarily schools in the north county area.

A copy of the Town of Emmitsburg 2009 Comprehensive Plan is available on the Town's web site,

For a copy of the County Comprehensive Planvisit The county's Comprehensive Plan includes a countywide land use plan map and a plan document that addresses elements such as: environmental and natural resources; cultural and historic features; agricultural preservations; transportation; infrastructure and community facilities; growth management, and land use.

Read other articles by Chris Staiger