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 4: Land Use Element



In 1757, Samuel Emmit began to sell off small parcels of land in the vicinity of present day Emmitsburg. These lands were conveyed by patent from a larger land holding belonging to Charles Carroll which was known by name "Carrollsburgh." The earliest occupied hamlet in this area was initially known as "Poplar Fields" or "Silver Fancy."

Samuel Emmit laid out the original Town grid in 1785 and sold 35 acres to William Emmit, "wherein lots of the New Town called Emmitsburg are laid out." In 1787, William Shields purchased 106 acres adjoining the new town. This tract became "Shield's Addition to Emmitsburg," which includes much of the west end of the downtown area. Construction along Main Street began in the 1 780's and has continued throughout the next two centuries.

Emmitsburg developed as a crossroads community since the Town was located along both north-south and east-west migration corridors. Migrating German and Scots-Irish settlers from South Central Pennsylvania and English settlers from Tidewater Maryland moved into the Emmitsburg area. The Town retains much of the cultural heritage from both German and English migration in the form of prominent surnames and place names.

In 1809, Elizabeth Seton moved to the area and established St. Joseph's College Catholic School on land immediately south of the Town of Emmitsburg. St. Joseph's College, one of the early Catholic institutions for women, and nearby Mt. Saint Mary's College established Emmitsburg as a nationally known center for Catholic education in the United States. Concurrent with the development of St. Joseph's College, Mother Seton also established the Sister of Charity at Emmitsburg, a Roman Catholic religious order associated with the Sisters of St. Vincent cle Paul.

Emmitsburg began a period of extensive development from the early through the mid- 1 9th Century. By 1823, the Town contained dry goods and grocery stores, as well as four principal taverns and assorted "tipling shops." The Town was estimated to have "about 700 inhabitants" at this time and have four doctors. John Armstrong, a nationally prominent early American long rifle gunsmith, was an early resident and businessman in Emmitsburg.

Emmitsburg developed in a compact urban pattern along a rectilinear grid of streets and alleys. By the mid-1 9th Century, the area of development extended from the fork in the road at the west end of Town to the 400 block of East Main Street. Black's Tavern, later the National Hotel or Emmit Hotel, was located in the fork of the road at the west end of the Town. The turnpike north of Main Street, the current North Seton Avenue, included a number of residences and a hotel, but was sparsely developed north of St. Joseph's Church. Immediately south of Main Street, the current South Seton Avenue area, was an industrial area that included Lewis Motter's tannery, a foundry, and a blacksmith shop. The foundry produced much of the decorative ironwork that can still be found in Emmitsburg.

Events that occurred during the summer of 1863 had a significant impact on the residents of Emmitsburg. The Emmitsburg Fire of 1863 began on June 16 and destroyed or damaged buildings on both sides of Main Street. The fire impact area extended from the Town Square to the 300 block of East Main Street and necessitated extensive rebuilding along East Main Street. Most of the current structures in the fire impact area along East Main Street date from the late 1 9th Century or later. For the most part, the newer structures retain the same scale and setbacks as the older buildings on West Main Street. In the weeks following the Emmitsburg Fire, residents were subjected to repeated incursions by both Union and Confederate cavalry and infantry who were either en route to or coming from the Town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, seven miles north of Emmitsburg. The pivotal Civil War battle of Gettysburg, which occurred July 1- 3, 1863, was the largest land battle ever to occur in the United States. Supplies and livestock were expropriated from homes and businesses in the Emmitsburg area and many buildings were used to house wounded combatants. The sound of artillery engagements at Gettysburg was reputed to have been heard at Emmitsburg.

In November 1875, The Western Maryland Railroad began service from Baltimore to Emmitsburg through Rocky Ridge. The Emmitsburg Railroad or "Dinky line" was located east of the foundry and paralleled the Frederick Turnpike, current South Seton Avenue. The Emmitsburg Railroad, which was financed in part by the Sisters of Charity at St. Joseph College, removed the need for the 16 mile round trip to Rocky Ridge for students and visitors to Emmitsburg. Railroad service from Rocky Ridge to Emmitsburg was discontinued in 1940.

Emmitsburg's appearance changed relatively little during the first fifty years of the 20th Century. Emmitsburg's rectilinear street and alley grid was extended north of DePaul Street and east toward Flat Run. In keeping with the older buildings along Main Street, construction in newer areas rarely exceeded two to three stories in height. Increased building heights were used in the principal structures in the Town Square, in religious buildings, and in school structures. Construction practices changed in the early 20th Century. Newer residences tended to be constructed in wood, whereas brick and log frame construction practices were predominately used by earlier generations along Main Street. Other changes included removal of the fountain and pump in the center of the Town Square and the shade trees on Main Street.


Emmitsburg is a diverse, compact, and efficient community which has evolved and been maintained at a pedestrian scale. Residents typically walk throughout the Town. Emmitsburg has an easily accessible central core, featuring various restaurants, commercial, and professional services, which are interspersed among attached and detached residences. The central Town Square and assorted churches, and institutional uses along Main Street and Seton Avenue are landmarks that provide a sense of place and orientation to residents and visitors to Emmitsburg.

Since the mid-20th Century, Emmitsburg has witnessed a period of expansion which resulted in changes in the street design pattern and appearance of structures outside of the downtown area, although the historic fabric of downtown has remained relatively intact. Relocation of U.S. 15 in the 1 960's from Seton Avenue to its current alignment west of Harney Road diverted much of the interstate vehicle traffic from the downtown area. Subsequently, Emmitsburg has annexed large tracts of land area east of relocated US 15.

Over the past several decades, Emmitsburg has annexed land to the north, east, and west of the downtown area. New residential development within these annexation areas assumed a "suburban residential" pattern featuring detached single-family residences located on predominantly curvilinear streets with non-connecting cul-de-sacs. Residential and commercial land uses have been physically separated from one another through the application of municipal zoning regulations. Expansion of Emmitsburg's rectilinear grid system of streets and alleys occurred only in the area north of DePaul Street and east of North Seton Avenue. This occurred prior to 1960.

The large institutional uses south of Emmitsburg has thus far prevented expansion of the Town corporate limits towards Tom's Creek. The over 200 acres in institutional land use within the Town include St. Joseph's Provincial House of the Sisters of Charity and Mother Seton School. South of the Town boundary, the former St. Joseph's College was closed in the mid-1 970's and subsequently converted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency - National Emergency Training Center.

In the downtown area, the historic street pattern has not been significantly altered and little new construction has occurred in the Main Street area. The Town Square and the downtown portion of Main Street are a mixed-use area featuring residential, office, and commercial activity in the same block and often in the same building. A combination of restaurant, retail, offices and non-professional services are concentrated in the Town Square area of Emmitsburg. This commercial core includes the businesses located in and around the Town Square intersection of Main Street and Seton Avenue. Interspersed among the commercial uses in downtown Emmitsburg are residential uses consisting of single-family attached row houses and apartments with some single family detached residences. Some residences along West Main Street date to the late 1 8th and early 1 9th Century. Some single-family detached housing is located on Main Street, although this form of housing is primarily located outside of the Main Street area.

In 1991, the Emmitsburg Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Emmitsburg Historic District, which encompasses most of Main Street and portions of North and South Seton Avenue, includes 216 contributing buildings and one contributing site. Commercial areas are located at various points along East and West Main Street and along South Seton Avenue.

A supermarket and restaurant are located in the commercial area at East Main Street and Silo Hill Road. A convenience store is located along West Main Street, east of Tract Road, at the west end of town. A commercial area with restaurants and some retail is located on the west side of South Seton Avenue south of the Town Square.

Residential areas outside of downtown include Emmit Gardens, located east of Flat Run and south of East Main Street. Emmit Gardens is a relatively "modern" residential subdivision which is located near to the downtown area. Other recent residential subdivisions are located north and west of the downtown area. These subdivisions include Northgate, located off North Seton Avenue; Silo Hill, located north of East Main Street and west of U.S. 15; and Emmit Ridge, located east of Irishtown Road abutting the Northgate development. Final subdivision plats have been approved for both the Pembroke and Brookfield subdivisions, which are located northwest of the downtown area, between Tract Road and Irishtown Road.

Open space and parkland uses are located west of South Seton Avenue at the Community Park and swimming pool site, east of South Seton Avenue and south of Lincoln Avenue, and along Flat Run extending north of East Main Street.

Land areas east of U.S. 15 are predominantly agricultural. Less than ten singlefamily residences are situated along Harney Road. The spray irrigation fields associated with the Emmitsburg Waste Water Treatment Plant are located east of Creamery Road.

Industrial employment areas are grouped into one continuous corridor along US 15. This has several beneficial aspects for Emmitsburg. First, this configuration will allow maximum economic utilization of the major highways: US 15 and MD 140. Second, heavy truck traffic will be better contained in one part of Emmitsburg, as opposed to various locations throughout the Town. Third, potential negative environmental and aesthetic aspects of industrial development will impact far fewer persons than would be the case if employment areas were designated at various sites around Emmitsburg.

Outside of the Town boundaries, much of the MD 140 and Mountain View Road areas contain dispersed single family residences located in a strip development pattern. Many of these residences receive Emmitsburg public water service.


Over 232 acres of land are in residential use in Emmitsburg, comprising 31.5 percent of the Town's land area. Approximately 193 acres are in single-family residential use, while row and townhouse units make up over 9.2 acres. It is estimated that two family dwellings occupy 23 acres and multi-family housing comprises nearly seven acres.

Commercial uses occupy 41.4 acres in Emmitsburg. Over 20 acres are in various general commercial uses, including portions of downtown, while service commercial uses comprise 13.8 acres, and highway commercial uses comprise 6.9 acres. Land in industrial use within Emmitsburg comprises under seven acres. Limited industrial and office uses account for 4.6 acres while general industrial uses comprise 2.3 acres. Institutional land uses, including both public and semi-public uses, comprise 112.7 acres within Emmitsburg. Open space and park uses occupy 20.7 acres within the Town.

Agricultural and undeveloped land is the largest land use component within Emmitsburg, comprising over 344 acres. This includes planned office and industrial areas east of US 15 and acreage planned for the residential communities of Pembroke and Brookfield. Undeveloped land accounts for 46.7 percent of the land area within Emmitsburg.


Zoning is the primary tool to implement the land use component of the Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan. Table IV-1 is an inventory of Emmitsburg's current zoning and acreage.

While Frederick County has maintained zoning in the Emmitsburg area since 1959, the first official Emmitsburg Zoning Ordinance was adopted in the 1960's. Since that time, Emmitsburg's Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map have gone through numerous amendments to further refine and reflect municipal objectives.

Emmitsburg's current zoning inventory includes eleven districts. The largest zoning district in terms of land area is R-1 Residential which includes approximately 194 acres. The Open Space zoning district comprises 112 acres primarily incorporating the large institutional uses associated with the St. Joseph's Provincial House, the Sisters of Charity holdings at Emmitsburg. The ORI, Office Research District is also 112 acres in size, although presently undeveloped. The ORI District includes three significant farm parcels located west of Harney Road and south of Welty Road, as well as one seven acre parcel located east of U.S. 15 and Creamery Road.

Table IV. 1


Town of Emmitsburg

Zoning District Acreage

  • Village Zone 52.9
  • OS, Open Space District 112.7
  • R-1, Low Density Residential 193.2
  • R-2, Medium Density Residential 66.7
  • R-3, High Density Residential 16.1
  • R-S, Residential Suburban 0
  • B-1, Neighborhood Business 0
  • B-2, General Business 60.8
  • HS, Highway Service 32.2
  • I-P, Industrial Park District 89.7
  • ORI, Office Research District 112.7

Total Acres 737

1. Village Zone District

The VZ, Village Zone District, extends throughout the historic center of downtown Emmitsburg. The VZ District is a mixed-use district that permits a range of activities, including residential, neighborhood retail and services, and office uses, which are in keeping with the traditional uses to be found in the older areas of Main Street and Seton Avenue.

The residential setbacks in the VZ District do not promote design compatibility with the traditional layout of structures along most of Main Street and portions of Seton Avenue. While the VZ District is intended "to attain a general compatibility of exterior design arrangement, texture and materials proposed to be used," the design standards for the VZ District include front yard setbacks of 25 ft. and side yard setbacks of 8 ft. for residential structures. In effect, new residential structures in the downtown area must be setback from the street as in all other residential zoning districts, although most existing structures in the VZ District are constructed up to the sidewalk or public way. In addition, existing residential structures in the VZ District that sustain damage exceeding 60 percent of their fair market value, cannot be reconstructed except through a variance from the Town Board of Appeals.

2. Open Space District

The OS, Open Space District, serves a variety of purposes. The OS District is intended to provide open space and parkland for natural beauty and recreational value. The OS District is also intended to preserve natural resources, prevent erosion, pollution, silting, and safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of persons and property by limiting development on excessive slopes, in floodplains or poorly drained land, or other areas where the lack of protection could prove costly to the community.

Permitted uses in the OS District include playgrounds, golf courses, cemeteries, wildlife preserves, and various public and private recreational uses. The OS District also permits institutional uses such as schools, churches, nursing homes, public buildings, and public works facilities.

Design standards for the OS District stipulate a 50 ft. front and rear yard setback and a 15 ft. side yard setback.

3. Residential Districts

Emmitsburg has four residential zoning districts: R-1 Low Density; R-2 Medium Density; R-3 High Density; and R-S Residential Suburban. Emmitsburg's residential zoning districts are oriented toward suburban neighborhood development with extensive front, side, and rear setbacks.

The R-1 District permits single-family detached residential uses on minimum 12,000 sq.ft. lots. The R-2 District permits single-family units on 8,000 sq.ft. lots, and two-family, and duplex units on 6,000 sq.ft. lots. In addition to the uses permitted in the R-2 District, the R-3 District permits multi-family - apartment or condominium uses. The R-S District is a low-density residential zoning classification designed to accommodate two lots to an acre (i.e., 20,000 sq.ft. lot size). Presently, no areas within Emmitsburg are zoned R-S.

Emmitsburg currently lacks any form of Traditional Neighborhood zoning district (or TND overlay district) with reduced front and side yard setbacks and lot widths. Current zoning does not allow any means to achieve traditional neighborhood design in Emmitsburg. This includes the Village Zone. The design standards for each residential district mandate 35 ft. to 40 ft. front yard setbacks, side yard setbacks between 10 ft. and 16 ft., and minimum lot widths between 60 ft. and 100 ft.

4. Commercial Districts

The B-1 Neighborhood Business District is intended for retail and service establishments in close proximity to residential zoning districts in a manner that will make them pedestrian friendly. With no front or side yard setbacks, the B-1 District removes parking from the front of commercial buildings, moving it to other portions of the property, giving the streetscape a more pedestrian friendly appearance. At present, no areas within Emmitsburg are zoned B-1.

The B-2 General Business District is a conventional auto commercial zoning category. It encourages suburban-style community shopping facilities designed primarily for auto access. In the B-2 District, commercial buildings are separated from the street and parking is provided in front of buildings. The B-2 District permits a larger range of commercial uses than B-1.

The HS Highway Service District is intended to provide for automobile needs and drive-in services of local traffic, including motels, restaurants, automobile service stations, and fire companies. Highway Service zoning is intended to be located at strategic locations on primary highways.

Table IV.2

ANNEXATIONS, 1980-1996, Town of Emmitsburg

Year Name Location Acreage Zoning


Yazed U/S of US 15, west of Harney Rd. & north of MD 140


Highway Service


Carr/Sanderson N/S of MD 140, east of Tract Rd.





W/S of Harney Rd.


I-P & B-2



NW/S of North Seton Ave., north of Federal St.


R-1 & R-2


Walsh S/S & E/S of Welty Rd. & W/S of Harney Rd.




Waybright NE corner of US 15 & Creamery Rd.




Sponseller E/S of Harney Rd., N/S & S/S of MD 140



Table IV.3

1980 -1996 - Town of Emmitsburg

Zoning Acreage Percentage

  • Office/Industrial 176.89 54.7
  • Commercial 62.70 19.4
  • Residential 83.96 25.9

Total Acreage 323.55 100.0%


Total Units

Unit Type

Subdivision name Location



Brookfield W/S Irishtown Rd.






Emmit Ridge E/S Irishtown Rd.




Northgate NW/S North Seton Ave.




Pembrooke E/S Tract Rd., N/S West Main St.



Silo Hill N/S East Main St., E/S Silo Hill Rd.





Southgate E/S South Seton Ave., S/S Cedar Ave.




383 59 84

5. Employment/industrial Districts

The I-P, Industrial Park District is intended to accommodate both heavy commercial and light industrial uses, including warehousing and light manufacturing. The I-P District contains front and rear yard setbacks of 25 ft., but lacks clearly delineated industrial performance standards to reduce visual and environmental impacts to adjacent properties and roadways and to protect the health and safety of nearby residents.

The ORI, Office Research District is intended to provide for the development of office, research, and limited manufacturing uses in high visibility locations along major roadways. The ORI District also permits offices, accessory restaurants, and motels. The ORI District incorporates a set of performance standards which are designed to reduce visual impacts and environmental impacts to adjacent properties and roadways.


Since adoption of Emmitsburg's 1974 Comprehensive Development Plan, the Town has annexed land both north and east providing acreage for residential expansion and future employment uses.

A large amount of annexation activity occurred during the five-year period between 1985 and 1990, adding over 323 acres to Emmitsburg, as shown in Table IV-2. This represents a substantial increase in the pace of corporate expansion when compared to the twenty-year period from 1959 through 1979. Between 1959 and 1979, the Town annexed approximately 301 acres, including the St. Joseph's Provincial House property, and the present location of Emmit Gardens, Silo Hill, Emmit Ridge, and the site of the future Brookfield subdivision.

The annexations between 1985 and 1990 included nearly all of the acreage east of US 15 between MID 140, Harney Road, and Welty Road, as well as properties south of MID 140. Large properties were annexed to the north, including the site of the Northgate subdivision and the site of the future Pembroke subdivision.

A total of 526 new dwelling units have been approved in Emmitsburg's new major subdivisions (i.e., 25 lots and greater) since 1980. Of these, 72.8 percent have been single-family detached dwelling units. Town house/rowhouse units comprise 11 .2 percent and duplex units comprise 15.9 percent of the recently approved subdivision lots. No land has been subdivided for apartments or condominiums since 1980.

The location of different types of dwelling units that have been approved through the subdivision process sheds light on the future residential characteristics of Emmitsburg. Solely single-family dwelling units have been approved in the Pembroke and Brookfield development located in the northwest section of Emmitsburg between Tract and Irishtown Roads. Duplex units have been approved in the eastern and northern section of Town in the Silo Hill subdivision and in the Northgate subdivision. A limited number of town house/rowhouse units have been approved at Emmit Ridge and at Silo Hill. It should be noted that the Silo Hill subdivision incorporates both single-family and duplex units within its neighborhood design, effectively mixing these two types of residential units along the same streets.


The Comprehensive Plan incorporates the concept of Community Policy Areas as an organizing framework for land use planning and management in Emmitsburg. The Town and adjacent land areas within the County can be categorized into six community policy areas:

  1. Historic Village;
  2. Institutional Enclave;
  3. Neighborhood Districts;
  4. Employment Corridor;
  5. Greenways; and
  6. Gateways.

With the exception of Greenways, each Community Policy area is characterized by different mixes and densities of land uses, distinctive scale and design of buildings, and different street patterns, vehicular and pedestrian access. Policies are adopted in this Plan that establish the future land use characteristics in each of the Community Policy Areas.

The Community Policy Areas identify existing features and points of focus for different sections and neighborhoods throughout Emmitsburg. The Community Policy Areas are used as the basis for the land use goals and policies contained in this Plan. The land use goals and policies and the proposed land use map are intended to guide future land use activity throughout Emmitsburg for the next twenty years.

Each Community Policy Area is currently made up of or planned to contain specific development concepts. For example, in the Neighborhood District Policy Area, one type of permitted development is a Traditional Neighborhood. With this residential development concept, a developer has the option of proposing different residential types, as well as local commercial and service uses that would be located within a Residential Neighborhood Center. The size of the lots, setbacks, building bulk and density, and street pattern would conform with specific guidelines for a Residential Neighborhood Center. Also included in the Residential Neighborhood Center are ground floor commercial uses and second floor residential uses, a design concept which is long established in Emmitsburg's core Historic Village Policy Area.

Historic Village

The Historic Village Policy Area comprises the downtown core area along East and West Main Street, portions of North and South Seton Avenues, DePaul Street, and Federal Avenue. The Historic Village is characterized by the Main Street core of Emmitsburg with its distinctive and historic building styles, as well as adjacent residential areas that are designed in compact patterns in traditional rectilinear blocks. A mix of different land uses can be found in the Historic Village Policy Area, including commercial uses with housing located above shops, churches, the Fire Department and Town Offices, and various types of residential uses, including apartments, rowhouses, duplexes, and single family detached homes.

The Historic Village Policy Area contains a grid network of streets, alleys, and sidewalks that forms a set of interconnecting neighborhoods, permitting both pedestrian and automobile access throughout the downtown area. In much of the Historic Village Policy Area buildings are located up to or near the sidewalk and street. A system of alleys and on-street parking are used in much of the Historic Village to accommodate automobiles. Front yard driveways can be found along DePaul Street and north, but are not the norm in most of the Policy Area. The sidewalks are actively used by residents for travel throughout the community.

The Historic Village Policy Area is compact with a distinct physical identity, a mix of land uses, and a central area of community focus. Residential density near the Town Square is approximately eleven dwelling units an acre. Throughout the Historic Village Policy Area the residential density is greater than eight dwelling units per acre.

In terms of design, nearly all buildings in the central core of the Historic Village are constructed up to or near the sidewalks and display a variety of roof pitches, heights, and design characteristics, although most are two stories in height. The majority of higher density, smaller lots are located near to the town core and larger lots are located nearer the periphery of the Historic Village. The sidewalk widths, street trees, and parallel parking in the Historic Village serve as a buffer between pedestrians and moving traffic and promotes walking throughout downtown. The network of streets and alleys offers the possibility of multiple routes to destinations throughout the Historic Village. The Town Square is a mixed use area of restaurants, retail shops, and services with residential dwelling units on upper floors. The Town Square features structures up to four stories in height. It is the heart of the Historic Village and the center of the Emmitsburg community.

In terms of policy for the Historic Village, infill development should complement the building shapes, bulk, and setbacks that currently exists on adjacent, developed sites within this Policy Area. The entire Historic Village Policy Area shall utilize a Traditional Neighborhood Overlay District (i.e., TND) as a zoning too[ to encourage compatible infill and new development. When infill development is proposed within the Historic Village Policy Area, the structure should be located adjacent to the sidewalk or public way, unless adjacent and abutting uses are setback from the public way. The new building should be designed to blend in with surrounding structures. Parking areas for commercial or service uses should be located either to the rear or side of the structure. Front yard parking for commercial, service, or mixed use buildings will not be permitted within the Historic Village Policy Area. Since Emmitsburg is a pedestrian community, sidewalks in the Historic Village should be designed to link with Emmitsburg's Greenways and trails network to permit greater access for residents throughout the community.

Institutional Enclave

The Institutional Enclave incorporates large land areas south of the Historic Village. This area is characterized by the large institutional buildings currently operated by the Sisters of Charity and the National Emergency Training Center, as well as Emmitsburg's Community Center and Community Park. Some of this area is within the current municipal boundaries, while some is outside of the Town.

The Institutional Enclave Policy Area includes extensive areas of open space, as well as the large structures associated with the Daughters of Charity religious order and the federal government. The Institutional Enclave includes most of the land area south to Tom's Creek. This area does not have an interconnecting road network, although pedestrian walkways occur throughout the Institutional Enclave. The pedestrian walkways are associated with St. Joseph's Provincial House, the Mother Seton Historical Site, the National Emergency Training Center, the Mother Seton School, Emmitsburg Elementary School, and the Community Park. These pedestrian walkways are designed to serve each specific use and rarely link with offsite pedestrian walkways. The sidewalk on the east side of South Seton Avenue, which extends south to the entrance of the National Emergency Training Center is principal pedestrian link to downtown. Lacking cross streets, most of the major land uses within this Policy Area use South Seton Avenue as their primary vehicular roadway, although the Community Park is accessed from West Lincoln Avenue and Mother Seton School from Creamery Road.

The area east of South Seton Avenue contains large expanses of grassy open space with occasional trees, although the area south of the National Emergency Training Center and in the stream banks adjacent to Willow Rill are wooded. The area immediately west of South Seton Avenue, including the Emmitsburg School site, contains few trees. The Emmitsburg Pool and adjacent ballfields are located in grassy open areas, while the Community Park is heavily forested from the ballfield area south to Tom's Creek.

The Institutional Enclave Policy Area has a distinct physical identity based upon the large religious and governmental uses and park and open space uses in this area. These areas serve as a scenic backdrop between the Historic Village and College Mountain. In terms of design, this area features several large multi-story structures that are located in nodes with peripheral parking areas and clusters of smaller structures, several moderate size public or religious buildings, ballfields, a pool site, and a large passive recreational area. The Institutional Enclave includes a nursing home which is an accessory use to St. Joseph's Provincial House.

New uses or infill development within the Institutional Enclave should complement those found on adjacent, developed sites. New uses should be designed to blend in with surrounding structures and should incorporate harmonious landscaping plans. Parking areas for permitted uses should be established either to the rear or side of the structure. Parking areas should incorporate effective landscaping plans. Designers should seek to reduce the potential impact of building size, exterior appearance, signs, and other features that can be seen from the public way. Outdoor lighting should be designed to reduce off-site glare to a minimum.

The transportation network shall include both pedestrian and vehicular circulation patterns that form safe and convenient linkages and permit pedestrian access to downtown Emmitsburg. The pedestrian ways should be designed to link with Emmitsburg's Greenways and Trails network to permit greater access for residents throughout the Emmitsburg community.

Neighborhood Districts

The Neighborhood District Policy Area is located in sections of Emmitsburg that have experienced recent residential growth or are planned for future residential growth. Primarily located in areas north of Main Street, the Neighborhood District Policy Area also includes undeveloped tracts south of Main Street both east and west of the Community Park.

Emmitsburg's Neighborhood District Policy Area is comprised primarily of single family detached residences, although some duplex and rowhouse/town house units have been constructed in newer subdivisions. No commercial or service land uses have thus far been located in the Neighborhood District Policy Area. The residential density in the Neighborhood District Policy Area is less than the IT density in the Historic Village Policy Area. The Neighborhood District has an average residential density of less than 4.0 dwelling units per acre. Residential densities of 3.0 dwelling units per acre are evident in newer subdivisions that contain entirely single-family detached dwellings. For the most part, subdivisions within the Neighborhood Districts are homogeneous, consisting of the same type of residences, interspersed with an occasional neighborhood tot lot or park. In terms of design, the Neighborhood District Policy Area consists of homes that are setback from the street, usually with front yard driveways. Since few commercial or service uses have been established in the Neighborhood District Policy Area, residents generally rely on the automobile for short, convenience-oriented trips within Emmitsburg


The Neighborhood District Policy Area is characterized by existing or planned collector road alignments that serve systems of local roads and cul-de-sacs within residential subdivisions. Lacking side streets that are the norm in the Historic Village Policy Area, vehicles in the Neighborhood District Policy Area use the same point of entry to enter and exit residential subdivisions. Collector streets obtain vehicle traffic from local roads within subdivisions and route this traffic to key intersections. This can create high levels of vehicle traffic at some intersections and discourage pedestrian use of some key intersections. Most subdivisions, although not all, are served by sidewalks which connect with sidewalks that serve the downtown area. Sidewalks along roadways in individual subdivisions are intended to promote pedestrian access throughout Emmitsburg.

Mixed-use traditional communities are the preferred development pattern within the Neighborhood Districts. A Traditional Neighborhood Overlay District (i.e., TND) shall be included in the Zoning Ordinance and promoted through the use of development incentives within the Neighborhood District Policy Area. Mixed-use traditional communities shall be permitted to develop at densities from 3.5 to 6.0 dwelling units per acre, containing neighborhoods that are characterized by an interlocking grid pattern of streets and sidewalks, a variety of public parks and op n spaces, and a generally rectilinear pattern of small blocks surrounding a Neighborhood Commercial Center or civic area. Additional residential density will b allowed for developments that provide extra on-site amenities, including added park land dedications and trail linkages, pedestrian-oriented commercial neighborhood centers, and for developments that incorporate low impact environmental design concepts into subdivision and site plans. The Neighborhood Center is intended to provide a mix of different residential, service or civic uses and to serve as a convenient and pedestrian-oriented center for community activities and interaction. Pedestrian oriented Neighborhood Commercial Centers are an encouraged use in Traditional Communities.

Suburban neighborhoods, which are usually characterized by the use of cul-de-sac streets, minimal development of public spaces and a distinct separation of different uses, are not the preferred development pattern within the Neighborhood Districts, but will be permitted where such development has occurred in the past or where serious topographic considerations warrant their use. Suburban Neighborhoods shall be permitted to develop at a density of no less than 3.5 dwelling units per acre. Additional residential density will be allowed for developments that provide additional amenities, including extra park land dedications and trail linkages, pedestrian oriented open space, and for developments that incorporate low impact environmental design concepts into subdivision and site plans.

Residential Neighborhood Centers, with retail and service establishments, will be permitted and encouraged within new residential developments. The Residential Neighborhood Centers will be located within convenient walking distance of most neighborhood residents and will be a central focal point for the community. These Centers will have parking behind or beside the buildings, and will maximize the use of landscaping and pedestrian amenities, such as benches and bicycle racks, and feature a coordinated architectural scheme. Within Residential Neighborhood Centers, dwelling units shall be permitted above the ground floor commercial uses by right. Landscaped pedestrian commons areas are encouraged at all Residential Neighborhood Centers, permitting developers additional residential density through a streamlined development review process.

Pedestrian ways will be designed within both traditional communities and suburban neighborhoods within the Neighborhood District Policy Area to link parks, schools, civic areas, commercial areas, and other area of public use with Emmitsburg's Greenways and trails network. The pedestrian ways and trails networks will permit greater access to residents throughout Emmitsburg.

Employment Corridor

The Employment Corridor Policy Area comprises large undeveloped land areas located both east and west of US 15. This area is planned to contain Emmitsburg's office and light industrial uses, as well as some commercial uses associated with the US 15 and IVID 140 interchange. The Employment Corridor Policy Area encompasses Welty Road in the north, land areas east of Harney Road, as well as acreage extending r south of IVID 140 and Flat Run creek, encompassing land on both sides of Creamery Road, both east and west of US 15.Approximately 95 percent of current employment/light industrial land in this Policy Area is undeveloped.

Within the Employment Corridor, local and regional office employment uses and light industrial uses are permitted and encouraged. These uses shall provide adequate landscaping, design features, and buffering to mitigate the impact of traffic, signs, noise, lighting, and odor to US 15 and other adjacent roads, as well as lessen the impact on nearby residential uses. The exterior appearance of buildings, signs, and other features that can be seen from the public way are considerations in this Policy Area. Effective landscaping and screening of parking, storage, and loading areas are a priority. The transportation system in the Employment Corridor Policy Area shall incorporate both pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems that form a safe and convenient network and permit access to employment areas from downtown Emmitsburg. Pedestrian ways shall be designed to link with Emmitsburg's Greenways and trails network.

Outdoor lighting will be designed for effective nighttime use of facilities and to reduce off-site glare to a minimum. Appropriate landscaping and buffering that mitigates the impact of traffic, lighting, signs, noise, odor, and other emissions shall be incorporated into the employment areas along with tasteful, low-profile signage.

Commercial services, ancillary to employment or light industrial uses, such as printing shops, stationary supply stores, food establishments, repair shops, financial institutions or day care centers may be located within the Employment Corridor.

The employment/light industrial sites north of IVID 140 have accessibility problems which can be surmounted through the use of a Spine Arterial Road that will link Welty Road and IVID 140. The Spine Arterial Road will serve the center of the Employment Corridor and remove a substantial portion of traffic use from the eastern portions of Welty and Harney Roads, as well as from US 140. The Spine Arterial Road is intended to serve as a collector alignment through the northern portion of the Employment Corridor Policy Area and will route vehicle movements to the planned interchange at US 15 and Welty Avenue, crossing over US 15 and joining with Brookfield Drive to serve the north Emmitsburg area.

The undeveloped employment sites south of MD 140 have accessibility problems that may render their full development moot, unless Flat Run Creek is bridged. This area lacks an interconnecting road network, but is served by MD 140 to the north and Creamery Road to the south. The at-grade intersection of Creamery Road and US 15 is planned for closure in conjunction with future US 15 highway improvements. Likewise, a Spine Collector Road is planned for the southern section of the Employment Corridor to connect Creamery Road and MD 140.

The internal street network within employment areas should be a modified grid that is based upon central collectors or arterial roadways. The street and intersection network should be designed to accommodate heavy vehicle traffic and be designed for future transit access. Access to the Employment Corridor will provide safe and efficient movement of traffic into these centers, without impeding traffic movements along adjacent roadways. Generally, entrances to and exits from individual employment uses will be made onto spine roads that serve these areas. The spine roads will be designed to cause the least disruption to traffic on the major roadways serving the Employment Corridor. Employment centers will be designed to effectively integrate pedestrian access with Emmitsburg's street network and to allow non-vehicular access to employment areas by residents of the Emmitsburg community.


Greenways are linear corridors of protected open space that serve a variety of purposes. Greenways provide excellent visual and sound buffers between incompatible land uses and serve to enhance water quality by providing forested buffer areas (i.e., riparian buffers) next to streams, reducing the amount of pollutants that enter stream systems, while lessening both the costs and impacts associated with floods. Another significant attribute of Greenways is their ability to connect places, including homes linked to schools, shops, and employment areas, neighborhoods linked to parks, or smaller parks linked to larger open areas. In this way, Greenways offer opportunities for recreational use through the creation of a system of pedestrian trails throughout Emmitsburg.

The Town recognizes the importance of stream corridor protection as one type of Greenway. The Greenways Policy Area will establish riparian buffer areas along Emmitsburg's stream systems. The Town encourages that land in stream corridors be placed under permanent open space protection through either donation of permanent protective easements, fee simple purchase or through open space dedications through the development process. Where possible, the Greenways Policy Area will promote the establishment of a network of pedestrian trails that will link Emmitsburg's parks and recreation areas with other areas of public assembly throughout the Town. The Town will initiate an "Adopt a Stream" program to address issues such as water quality and litter control.

Priority shall be placed on linking the designated Greenway Policy Areas with pedestrian walkways, neighborhood trails, ballfields, and other park and recreation areas that currently exist or are planned in all policy areas within Emmitsburg.


The Gateways Policy Areas are located along the major roadways leading into Emmitsburg. These comprise the portals or entrance ways into Town, as well as heavily traveled viewpoints of Emmitsburg.

The Gateways Policy Area will incorporate land uses and design elements that highlight the visual integrity of Emmitsburg or promote its scenic vistas. Appropriately designed commercial service areas will be permitted in most of the Gateway areas, excepting the US 15 Visitor Center which also serves in a Gateway capacity. Larger scale highway service uses, including lodging facilities, will be encouraged at present and planned US 15 interchanges. Protection of Emmitsburg's scenic vistas is a priority within Gateway areas.

Retail commercial, restaurant, lodging, and highway service uses shall be located in compact nodes in the Gateway Policy Areas. New commercial structures will not be spread out along roadways in a "strip development pattern" in the Gateways Policy Area. Commercial development should be clustered with buildings located close to collector or arterial alignments with screened parking areas located to the rear of uses. Structures and uses in the Gateway areas should provide design features that complement the character of prevailing architecture patterns in Emmitsburg and that serve to highlight the entrance points into the Town. Appropriate landscaping and buffering that mitigates the impact of traffic, lighting, signs, noise, odor, and other emissions shall be incorporated into the commercial node areas, along with tasteful, low-profile signage. Pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems in and around the commercial uses will form a safe and convenient network. Open space remainders within the Gateway Policy Areas not located in the compact commercial nodes shall be protected through easements to which the Town is a grantee.

The Gateway Policy Areas should be the location of park and ride facilities to accommodate commuter traffic. Park and Ride lots should be located near to current or proposed US 15 interchanges, but should not be the most prominent feature at the interchanges. The park and ride lot shall be appropriately landscaped and contain pedestrian amenities, including benches. Where feasible, the park and ride facility should be a "park like" in setting and not consist solely of an impervious asphalt or concrete surface.



POLICY Shape new developments that offer a mix of uses, pedestrian accessibility, visual character, parks and civic areas, and where the sense of place and community that is Emmitsburg's heritage can grow.

POLICY Mixed use development is encouraged in and around Emmitsburg to reinforce the traditional growth patterns, cut down on auto trips, minimize additional road improvements, and encourage walking t shopping, employment, and to schools and parks.

POLICY The Town encourages the development of a variety of housing types in an urban pattern of compact neighborhoods extending in a rational grid pattern from the historic village area.

POLICY Establish a Traditional Neighborhood (TND) Overlay Zoning District to encourage compatible new development in older

neighborhoods as well as for new developments within Emmitsburg. The TND Overlay District should be flexible with regulations for developers willing to undertake a TND project, including changed street widths, curb radii, building setback and yard requirements, building height and scale and parking requirements.

POLICY Traditional Neighborhood design concepts that complement and enhance Emmitsburg's historic development pattern will be the preferred land use standard of development. These patterns may be exhibited through:

  1. Numerous connections to existing streets where an existing rectilinear street pattern is evident and connection possible;
  2. An interconnected street network without cul-de-sacs and P-loop streets except where required for environmental or engineering reasons;
  3. A rectilinear block (modified only where needed to address environmental constraints) pattern with compact lots, alleys, shall w front and side yard setbacks, and block sizes of 300 to 600 feet;
  4. Sidewalks on all streets, providing interconnected access throughout the Town to shopping, parks, schools, public buildings, and businesses;
  5. A compatible mix of residential and nonresidential us s, such as convenience and service establishments, churches, schools, and home occupation businesses;
  6. A hierarchy of parks, squares or greens, and natural open spaces throughout the development, which may not serve in a dual use capacity for storm water management;
  7. A central focal point consisting of any, all or a combination of park/village green; public facility such as a church, community center, recreational center, or neighborhood commercial uses;
  8. On-street and alley access parking is encouraged over the provision of front yard parking and front yard curb cuts.

POLICY The residential density granted to a developer shall be a function of the developer's assistance in creating a design that accommodates environmental and historical features on the site, creates a fully functioning mixed-use community with a complement of public amenities for the development, and that complies with the goals and objectives of this Comprehensive Plan.

POLICY Community design standards and guidelines which preserve the natural and cultural resources of Emmitsburg will be implemented for new developments.

POLICY The existing commercial area of Emmitsburg will remain the Town Center and shall be the preferred, principal location of retail and service businesses, restaurants, and major civic uses.

POLICY Commercial and other non-residential structures should face the public street and will be constructed near to the front of the lot. Front yard parking is discouraged. Parking facilities at new non-residential structures should be located to the rear or side of the structures and not between the building and the street.

POLICY Structures and uses in the Gateway Policy areas should provide design features that complement the character of prevailing architecture patterns in Emmitsburg and that serve to highlight the entrance points into the Town. New commercial structures should not be spread out along roadways in a "strip development pattern." Commercial development in the Gateways Policy Area should be clustered with buildings located close to collector or arterial alignments with screened parking areas located to the rear of uses.

POLICY Appropriate landscaping and buffering that mitigates the impact of traffic, lighting, signs, noise, odor, and other emissions will be incorporated into the commercial node areas, along with tasteful, low-profile signage. Pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems in and around the commercial uses will form a safe and convenient network. Open space remainders within the Gateway Policy Areas that are not located in the commercial nodes will be protected through easements to which the Town is a grantee.

POLICY The Town encourages the coordinated design of employment centers that effectively integrate pedestrian access with Emmitsburg's street network. The internal street network within employment areas should be a modified grid that is based upon central collector or arterial roadways. The street network should be designed for future transit access.

POLICY The industrial density granted by the Town should be a function of the developer's assistance in creating a full complement of public utilities and facilities in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.

POLICY Employment and light industrial uses will be extensively buffered and screened. Outdoor storage will be screened from view from nearby roads and residential areas. Parking and storage areas will be oriented so that, from adjoining roads, the building is the prominent feature on the site.

POLICY Employment uses should front on a collector or arterial road and have access to such a road without traveling through a residential area.

POLICY Commercial uses such as child care centers, computer and office supply stores, food establishments, and printing shops may locate in designated Employment or light industrial areas where they serve an ancillary function to the employment uses. The commercial uses shall be housed in office or industrial buildings and shall be accessible by roads and entrances serving the employment park.

POLICY All residential and non-residential development within Emmitsburg will be serviced by public water and sewer. Extensions of water and sewer lines to serve new developments will be the financial responsibility of the developer.

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