Planners eye Dorchester’s future

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Members of the Dorchester County Planning Commission attended a comprehensive plan update workshop July 31 in Cambridge. Seated from the left are Jerry Burroughs, Mary Losty, Chair Robert Hanson, William Giese Jr. and Ralph Lewis. Standing is county Environmental Planner Brian Soper. Commission members not present were Jeff King, Vice Chair Laura Layton and attorney Christopher Drummond.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Members of the Dorchester County Planning Commission attended a comprehensive plan update workshop July 31 in Cambridge. Seated from the left are Jerry Burroughs, Mary Losty, Chair Robert Hanson, William Giese Jr. and Ralph Lewis. Standing is county Environmental Planner Brian Soper. Commission members not present were Jeff King, Vice Chair Laura Layton and attorney Christopher Drummond.

CAMBRIDGE – It’s a simple enough question – What will Dorchester County be in the future? – but the answer is complex.

That’s why local leaders are gathering information, opinions, and public comment as they begin a Comprehensive Plan Update. “We want as much input as we can get,” Planning Commission member Ralph Lewis said July 31 at a public workshop in Cambridge.

The updated document is anticipated to be adopted by the County Council by the end of 2019. The county has chosen consultants AECOM to prepare the plan.

And though the July 31 event was the third and final workshop, “There are numerous opportunities for you to stay informed and involved throughout the process,” a statement from the county said.

A comprehensive plan can be defined as a shared vision of what residents want an area to become. Some counties might opt for nearly unrestrained growth, for instance, while citizens in others might choose a rural lifestyle.

While some decisions could focus on specific aspects of growth and development, such as industrial areas or density of housing, there are other considerations, including:
* History and culture
* Transportation
* Natural resources
* Fisheries
* Flood hazards

Planners held workshops in Cambridge, Hurlock and South Dorchester. Commission member Jerry Burroughs said judging by preliminary results, “From what we gather, rising tide and aquaculture” are hot topics, as is communications. “Down south, they want towers,” Mr. Burroughs said.

At the workshops, stations were set up with easels featuring topics to consider in Dorchester’s future. Citizens were asked to place red stickers next to an idea to indicate their interest, or to write a new one on the sheet for all to view and mull over.

At the Cambridge workshop, “Preserved agriculture” appeared to have collected the most stickers, with “Thriving seafood industry” and “Improved infrastructure” also gaining support.

Still, those are just a few examples of a multi-faceted discussion that will continue for some time.

“A lot more updates will be on the Facebook page,” county Environmental Planner Brian Soper said. “In September, there will be another public information survey.” Results of the survey will be posted in October.

In the fall, drafts of the plan will be written. Planning Commission meetings will also be venues for more public comment. In the spring of next year, the final draft will be prepared, public meetings will be held, and the draft posted on the project website.

Finally, in winter 2019, the draft plan will be presented to the county, and a public hearing will be held, at which public comment will be heard prior to a vote on acceptance.

To visit the project website, go to www.dorchestercountymd.com/planning-zoning/comprehensive-plan.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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