- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
During its Aug. 20 meeting, the Calvert County Planning Commission ran into an issue regarding a judge’s recent decision that exempting Dominion Cove Point from the local zoning ordinance is against state law, which prompted the commission to change language contained in a draft flood mitigation plan.
Additional language was added to the draft Cove Point Community Flood Mitigation Plan in light of Judge James P. Salmon’s decision in an order dated Aug. 6, which declared that ordinance 46-13 to exempt Dominion Cove Point from local zoning ordinances was invalid and was passed outside the bounds of the authority of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners. The ordinance was approved Oct. 29, 2013, after a joint public hearing with the BOCC and the planning commission.
The Cove Point Community Flood Mitigation Plan was discussed among the Calvert County Planning Commission in a public hearing. A BOCC public hearing on the plan is scheduled for Sept. 23, according to last week’s presentation. A planning commission public hearing was scheduled for an earlier date, but county attorney John Norris found the proper notice had not been given about the hearing, so it was not held until last week, said Tom Barnett, director of the Department of Community Planning and Building.
The Cove Point community was chosen to have the first community flood mitigation plan in the county because out of 175 residential structures, 166 have the potential to flood, according to the draft plan. CoastSmart grant funds were used to create the plan, according to previous reports.
Dominion’s Cove Point liquefied natural gas facility is not included within the community covered by the plan, but the facility was still a concern to the residents, said Tay Harris, environmental planner. The Cove Point community believes Dominion Cove Point is part of their flooding and water quality problems, she said.
The contested language is in a section responding to nine ranked flooding concerns of the Cove Point community. The sixth-ranked concern is “County regulatory measures that protect citizens from industry including water quality, health, flooding.”
Responding to this concern, the plan stated, “Dominion is exempt from Calvert County’s local ordinance, but is regulated by State and federal regulations including oversight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”
Now, the plan will be changed to include a clause stating that pending litigation, Dominion is exempt from the Calvert County ordinance.
The county has until Sept. 5 to appeal the judge’s decision, according to previous reports.
Planning commissioner Roxanne Cumberland asked if the question and response had to be included in the plan at all.
As the county had not made a decision whether to appeal, Harris said, “I don’t know if we even have to change that at the moment.”
Barnett suggested adding language about ongoing litigation “because it’s not finished and won’t be for a while.”
Commissioner Malcolm Funn also pointed out that the response includes a mention of FERC, but not the Maryland Public Service Commission, which is also responsible for approval of Dominion’s $3.8 billion expansion project.
The planning commission unanimously moved forward with changes and to close the record.
In other business, the planning commission:
• Approved an application to change Old Meadow Road to Ray Charles Lane;
• Voted to move forward in the process to adopt amendments to the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance Floodplain Regulations based on Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements, with a joint public hearing scheduled for Oct. 21; and
• Voted to move forward in the process to adopt Zoning Ordinance Forest Conservation Regulations based on state law requirements, with a joint public hearing scheduled for Oct. 21.