News that Walmart is considering building a store at the intersection of Route 924 and Plumtree Road has area residents buzzing about traffic, growth and development and wondering where to take their concerns. It turns out their interest in development comes at a rather opportune time. The Harford County government is right in the middle of updating its 2012 Master Plan and Land Use Element Plan (last updated in 2004) and it’s looking for input from interested residents. The second public meeting on the plan, which will update how land can be used in the county, is scheduled for Thursday, April 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Chesapeake Center Dining Room at Harford Community College, 401 Thomas Run Road. The county’s planning and zoning director Pete Gutwald told The Aegis recently that the public’s involvement in the master plan update so far had been on the “thin side.” And this is even with a significant online component where interested residents can leave comments and keep track of the plan’s progress on their own time. I talked with Gutwald on Friday and he told me that while meetings like the one Thursday are not designed to answer residents’ questions and concerns about Walmart’s plans, he does welcome anyone interested in having a say about what happens with development in the county. Thursday’s meeting will be like an open house, he said, where he will ask residents to provide ideas on how to achieve some of the objectives laid out in the first meeting including land use, economic prosperity, public facilities, services and safety, and sustainability. Click here to read the summary of that meeting. If residents want to have a say in what happens to the land around where they live, Gutwald said, “You have to get involved early and often.” He said the parcel Walmart is considering at 924 and Plumtree was just rezoned in 2009. The property had been zoned R4 for residential housing and a plan was approved to put 400 homes on the site. When that plan didn’t come to fruition, the landowner went through the county’s process to have the property rezoned to B3, which is the highest intensity of commercial zoning available. The parcel’s rezoning went through the public hearing and county council approval process with little input from residents, Gutwald said.
To follow the 2012 Master Plan and Land Use Element Plan Update process online, visit http://pandz.harfordcountymd.spigit.com/homepagelight