BY ELLY COLMERS COWAN
Smart Growth Maryland and our partners in the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County are standing in opposition to a proposed Amendment to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan that would rezone 558 acres of protected land within the Watershed Conservation District as Employment and Industrial Park District. The rezoning would result in increased development, the destruction of vital natural resources, and an increase in impervious surfaces.
The Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County initially voiced our objections to this amendment before it was submitted to the state clearinghouse for comment at the end of 2020, and, after reviewing the comments from state agencies voicing concerns about the amendment, we continue to stand in opposition.
Show Your Opposition:
Show Your Opposition: The Charles County Planning Commission held a public hearing on Monday, May 3, 2021 at 6pm. The record has been kept open at this time. You can add your voice by submitting a comment by 4:30pm on Tuesday June 3!
If you register to speak, be sure to select “6/03/2021 – Amendment to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan – Maryland Airport” from the “Agenda Items” options.
The Amendment to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan proposes to rezone 558 acres from the Watershed Conservation District in the vicinity of the Maryland Airport. This rezoning has the potential to determine the future of the seriously threatened Mattawoman Creek that provides ecological services and supports a thriving outdoor and cultural tourism economy and a prominent fishery business. The removal of environmental protections for these lands will cause irreparable damage to the rich natural, agricultural, historic, and cultural elements of the Mattawoman Creek watershed by opening the properties up to development.
Besides the environmental benefits of protecting the Mattawoman Creek, it is also economically beneficial to Charles County. Outdoor recreation is a proven economic driver throughout Maryland. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Maryland annually accounts for these good numbers:
● Generates $14 billion in consumer spending,
● Supports 109,000 jobs,
● Generates $4.4 billion in wages and salaries, and
● Produces nearly $951 million annually in state and local tax revenue.
The Mattawoman watershed contains a nationally renowned fish habitat, and the recreational bass fishing industry in the Potomac alone is an outdoor tourism attraction that contributes to the local economy. Additionally, Mattawoman Creek provides critical habitat, wetlands, and good water quality of the new Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.
Economic development and environmental protections are not mutually exclusive. This Amendment to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan – Maryland Airport is not the right move for Charles County, and that is reflected by many of the comments from various state agencies that call into question the need and wisdom of the amendment. As the County looks towards economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and encouraging economic development, it needs to be supporting the conservation of outdoor destinations that are part of the lucrative outdoor tourism industry.
If you are unable to attend the Planning Commission public hearing on May 3, you can still voice your opposition to the proposed amendment by submitting a comment by clicking the link below, or comments may also be emailed directly to PlanningCommission@CharlesCountyMD.gov.
Deadline for comment submission is 4:30pm on Tuesday, June 3.