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BOCC hears presentation on X-47B

By AMANDA HARRISONStaff writer

Visitors and residents in the Drum Point area and around the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge may see what looks to be a UFO flying overhead beginning in late July.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Station will be flying its new X-47B in the area, which resembles what would be considered a UFO by Hollywood and popular culture standards.

During Tuesday’s Calvert County Board of County Commissioners meeting, Capt. Jaime Engdahl of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station made a presentation to the commissioners about the new tailless, unmanned aircraft.

Engdahl assured the commissioners that the X-47B will stay over the water during flights, which may take place at any time — but not at night — over the southern parts of the Chesapeake Bay and other restricted areas.

“It’s very exciting stuff,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw (R), “and it’s going to look like UFOs will be flying over the bay.”

The X-47B is a part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program.

Engdahl explained that the hope is for the aircraft to demonstrate the first carrier-based launches and recoveries by autonomous, low-observable-relevant unmanned aircraft.

In other business, the commissioners approved a joint public hearing with the Planning Commission to correct the official zoning map’s zoning district and critical area overlay district for the property known as Ship Point Research Park in Lusby.

Currently, the zoning map does not follow the property boundaries as was intended.

The property, as zoned, is bisected by a marine commercial zone and a residential district zone. The critical area overlay district is also bisected by an intense development area and a limited development area.

Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) wanted to make clear that this is not rezoning of the area, but a correction of the map to reflect what already exists.

“It was just an oversight in the way the official maps were drawn and this is the process of fixing the maps,” he said.

The split zoning issue was brought up in 1993 and the official map was intended to be corrected by former director of planning and zoning Greg Bowen, but it was never completed, according to a memo from county staff. The critical area overlay district issue was also brought up and a resolution in 1990 fixed that, but it, too, was not reflected in the official map.

aharrison@somdnews.com