Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan
A General Plan for Emmitsburg, Maryland

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The 1974 Comprehensive Plan for Emmitsburg
Chapter 3: Demographic Element
Chapter 4: Land Use Element
Chapter 5: Transportation Element
Chapter 6: Housing
Chapter 7: Economic Development and Renewal
Chapter 8: Community Design Element
Chapter 9: Community Facilities
Chapter 10: Environment and Sensitive Areas
Chapter 11: Implementation Strategies

Chapter 1: Introduction

Purpose and Intent

This update of the Town of Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan is a manifestation of commitment to responsible and active management of growth and development. The need for this plan is based in the logic that responsible and proactive management of a community's growth and development is preferable to reaction and loss of resources. Growth creates both opportunities and constraints to which a Comprehensive Plan provides anticipation and response.

The Comprehensive Plan is an official public document prepared by the Emmitsburg Planning Commission and adopted by the Mayor and Town Commissioners. The Plan is a long-range guide for land use, transportation, housing, economic development, community design, community facilities and services, and Environmental/Sensitive Areas Protection. It is used to guide public policy and development decisions of the residents while protecting the quality of life that makes Emmitsburg a special place to live, work or visit.

The Comprehensive Plan and Comprehensive Land Use Map set the policy which guide land use decisions, although the Plan is not a development ordinance. The majority of the Comprehensive Plan policies focus on the next twenty years and provide guidance for development decisions. The Comprehensive Plan establishes the framework and basis for the Town zoning and subdivision regulations. The Goals and Policies of this Plan are implemented through the regulatory and funding decisions of Town, County, and State officials with the cooperation of the residents and business community. The policies can be amended as new information becomes available without straying from the major goals of the Plan.

This Plan is a "living document" and should be reviewed and updated on a regular five-year basis. The implementation documents, including the zoning ordinance, subdivision regulation, and design standards shall be updated also on a five-year basis to reflect the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan.

Benefits of the Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan lays the foundation for the consistent application of recommended growth management strategies and policies. If respected and followed, this Plan will help to balance the needs and desires of the community with the management and protection of the Town's resources, while seeking to accommodate the Town's financial constraints. The Plan also embodies the principle that a balance should be maintained between cultural and environmental protection and economic development.

The Comprehensive Plan is not a law or ordinance. It is, however, a public policy document forming the legal basis for any future land use ordinances. In order for local ordinances regulating land use to be valid, they must be adopted in accordance with a locally adopted plan that is based upon and includes appropriate studies of the location and the extent of the present and anticipated population, social, economic, and environmental resources, and the current issues and concerns of the community.

Once the Plan is adopted, no new street, structure, utility, square, park or other public way, grounds, or open space or public buildings for any use, whether publicly or privately owned, may be constructed or authorized until the location, character and extent of it have been submitted to the Planning Commission for review and comments as to the compatibility of the proposal with the comprehensive plan of the community. This ensures that future growth and development within Emmitsburg will be conducted in a rational manner that complies with the goals and policies in adopted Comprehensive Plan and with the adopted Comprehensive Plan Map.

Authority for the Plan

The Comprehensive Plan is developed in accordance with Article 66B, Sections 3.05 through 3.08 of the Code of Maryland. The Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 amended Article 66B and includes specific planning elements, all of which are included in this document.

The Emmitsburg Planning Commission is responsible for preparing the Town Comprehensive Plan under the Code of Maryland, Article 66B, Section 3.05 which states: "...(I)t shall be the function of the Planning Commission to make and approve a plan... which shall serve as a guide to public and private actions and decisions to insure the development of ... property in appropriate relationships ...". The Code also states that the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan is that of "...guiding and accomplishing the coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the jurisdiction..." (Reference Code of Maryland, Article 66B, Section 3.06).

The Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992

On October 1, 1992, the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 took effect. The Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 was prompted by statewide fiscal, environmental, and preservation concern and by issues related to sprawl development patterns, including the unprecedented loss of agricultural, environmental, and historical resources in Maryland over the past two decades. The Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 established a statutory framework which included the following:

The Seven Visions are a comprehensive set of guiding principles.

The Seven Visions describe how and where growth and development should occur, and call fro a land and water stewardship ethic to guide individual and group action.

The following Seven Visions have been adopted as official State policy:

  1. Development is concentrated in suitable areas.
  2. Sensitive areas are protected.
  3. In rural areas, growth is directed to existing population centers and resource areas are protected.
  4. Stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay and the land is a universal ethic.
  5. Conservation of resources, including a reduction in resource consumption is practiced.
  6. To assure the achievement of 1 through 5 above, economic growth is encouraged and regulatory mechanisms are streamlined.
  7. Funding mechanisms are addressed to achieve these visions.

This Comprehensive Plan is consistent with these principals.

Sensitive Areas Element - The Comprehensive Plan shall include a Sensitive Areas Element that contains goals, objectives, principles, policies and standards designed to protect, from the adverse effects of development, sensitive areas, including:

  1. Streams and their buffers;
  2. 100-year floodplains;
  3. Habitats of endangered and threatened species; and
  4. Steep slopes

(Codified at Section 3.05 (a)(1)(viii), Article 66B, Annotated Code of Maryland).

The Act also permits the Sensitive Areas Plan element to include other areas which the Town determines are in need of protection.

Land Development Regulations - The 1992 Planning Act requires adoption of a regulatory policy that will encourage development and economic growth in Plan-designated areas, innovative and cost-saving site design, and flexible development regulations to protect the environment (Codified at Section 3.05(a)(1)(vi), Article 6613, Annotated Code of Maryland).

Incentives highlighted by the Planning Act to guide the physical form of development to accommodate both planning growth and environmental protection include:

  • Use of density bonuses to achieve higher levels of environmental protection.
  • Use of relaxed yard setbacks to permit a structure to locate outside of a stream buffer or away from steep slopes.
  • Use of narrower roads, flexible bulk standards, innovative design, pedestrian paths and sidewalks, larger community open spaces, creative storm water management, and tree plantings to minimize environmental impacts and enhance the surrounding community.
  • The requirements in the Planning Act calling for streamlining, flexibility, and innovation should be factored into planning and regulating sensitive areas as well as for other environmental resources located within plan-designated growth areas.

Plan Preparation

The update of the Emmitsburg Comprehensive was directed by the Emmitsburg Planning Commission with assistance from the Emmitsburg Economic Renewal Commission. The preparation of the Plan and maps was by David T. Whitaker, AICP, Principal Planner 11 under the direction of Edward P. Gorski, Chief of Comprehensive Planning and James R. Shaw, Director, Frederick County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Comprehensive Plan Adoption Procedures

  1. According to State Law, preparation and approval of the Plan is the responsibility of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission recommends the Plan to the Mayor and Town Commissioners as a guide for the coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of Emmitsburg and its environs.
  2. Prior to recommendation for adoption by the County Commissioners, the Planning Commission must hold at least one public hearing after giving at least 60 days notice. State and local jurisdictions responsible for the finance and construction of public improvements necessary for implementation of the Plan must have access to copies of the proposed plan for comments 60 days prior to the public hearing.
  3. After adoption of the Plan by the Mayor and Town Commissioners, the Planning Commission must review all proposed development plans to determine the consistency of street, squares, parks, public open space, buildings, structures and public or privately-owned utilities with the Plan.

Document Structure and Time Frame

This Plan will serve as the guide for future land use growth and development of the Town for the next five to twenty years.

In addition to the descriptions of Emmitsburg's history, physiographic environment, and demography, the following issues are examined in terms of existing conditions and trends, problem issues, goals/objectives/policies and implementation:

  • The 1974 Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan
  • Community Demographics
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Economic Development/Renewal
  • Community Design
  • Community Facilities
  • Environment/Sensitive Areas

Once the Plan is adopted, the Town must respond to this updated version by reviewing ordinances, maps, priorities and programs to see that they further the achievement of the goals/objectives/ policies identified through this process.

Future Update Process

Comprehensive Plan Recommendations should be subjected to a continuous process of review and update to assure that they are responsive to the major problems and needs of the time. The Planning Commission should review the Plan every five years. After completing their review, the Planning Commission is charged with making a recommendation to the Board of Town Commissioners regarding possible revision or amendment of this Plan.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The 1974 Comprehensive Plan for Emmitsburg
Chapter 3: Demographic Element
Chapter 4: Land Use Element
Chapter 5: Transportation Element
Chapter 6: Housing
Chapter 7: Economic Development and Renewal
Chapter 8: Community Design Element
Chapter 9: Community Facilities
Chapter 10: Environment and Sensitive Areas
Chapter 11: Implementation Strategies