2020 Comprehensive Plan Tracker - Under Construction

Land Use Element

Goal 1:  La Plata will maintain and enforce its plans and policies to strengthen the downtown core and maintain its small-town character.

Action Items Implementation Status
The 2018 comprehensive rezoning ordinance establishes the regulatory structure to encourage infill development and encourage mixed use development at the La Plata Town Center. Town staff and the Planning Commission should be mindful of their extraordinary efforts to complete the rezoning process over the course of eight years when considering proposed site plans, reviewing special exceptions and variances, signage plans, and negotiating mixed use and planned use development plans.   On-going
When Commission and staff workload in reviewing projects and plans become strained, priority should be given to review of downtown mixed-use and infill projects and necessary efforts to advance creation of the La Plata Town Center. Following a predictable yet flexible development review process will be key to gathering momentum for the project.   On-going
The Town should give additional review to its urban design guidelines, maximum setbacks from the curb or property line, and parking requirements to ensure that an active street frontage is gained with each new development project. Chapter 191 Revisions In Progress
The Town will consider mixed use zone for downtown core and implement main street program. New Form Based Zone - Chapter 191 In Progress

Goal 2: New development areas will reflect the principles of walkability, sustainability and environmental protection.

Action Items Implementation Status
Several new policy and planning concepts are contained in this comprehensive plan which are specifically intended to guide development in any areas seeking annexation into La Plata. The Planning Commission should conduct a thorough review and update of codes and standards to reflect concepts and standards contained in the comprehensive plan. Code Revisions TBD
As each annexation area is proposed, the Town should clearly establish its expectation that new development will meet or exceed code requirements and integrate into the Town as a cohesive part of the community. The Planning Commission should conduct a thorough review of proposed site plans prior to initiating the annexation process and enter into binding agreements on urban design, walkability, sustainability and environmental protection.   On-going

Goal 3: La Plata will plan develop flexible planning requirements to support anchor institutions and new/micro economy business opportunities.

Action Items Implementation Status
Establish a “Community and Campus Zone for Hospitals and Health Care Facilities” The goal of this zone would be to ensure integration of hospitals and associated health care facilities into the community in which they are located and may allow the zone to “float” to cover the main campus and nearby associated facilities; however, the applicant would be required to show a public benefit of doing so. For example, within certain proximities the zoning ordinance might consolidate the parking requirements of a hospital and nearby medical offices, diagnostic centers, etc., if the applicant provides for active street frontages, enhanced landscaping, off-site urban greenspace, etc. The zoning definition should also consider the eligibility of senior housing, assisted living, and other such facilities. Chapter 191 - Hospital Campus Zone Overlay Complete
Ensure that zoning definitions include the concepts of “micro-manufacturing” and “makerspaces” to be permitted in commercial and mixed-use areas. The Town should recognize that a rapidly changing economy does not neatly classify such business opportunities and that their integration into commercial and mixed-use areas brings investment and vitality to targeted sites.   TBD

Municipal Growth Area Element

Goal 4: La Plata will expand its boundaries when and where there is a clear net economic and/or environmental benefit to doing so and only when supported by adequate public facilities.

Action Items Implementation Status
Require that all new growth areas are connected to water and sewer service and provide or support adequate multimodal transportation capacity.    
Support annexation of existing residential and commercial properties when there is a clear plan and identified funding for water and sewer connections and capacity.    On-going

Goal 5: Improve intergovernmental coordination with respect to annexation, development processes and public facilities.

  Implementation Status
Review and revise, if necessary, the town’s school capacity policies in coordination with Charles County and the Board of Education. Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (DRAFT) In Process
Identify opportunities within growth areas to support new town or county public facilities such as schools, libraries, police and fire stations, and other municipal services infrastructure.    
Provide for reciprocal review of major development projects that may have impacts to the town or county when constructed in the other jurisdiction.    
Closely coordinate potential annexations with County government.    

Environmental Element

Goal 6: Protect sensitive environmental areas through resource conservation and other natural resource management tools.

Action Items Implementation Status
Continue to coordinate with Charles County on areas designated as habitat of rare, threatened and endangered species for priority retention area under the County’s Forest Conservation Ordinance.    
Close gaps in the local greenway network through direct acquisition, easements and exactions during the development process. Make regular application for funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Program Open Space (POS) to secure priority greenway areas where new development is not planned.     
Maximize opportunities for forest conservation subdivision requirements to be met through retention of natural wooded areas and wildlife corridors on site pursuant to Ordinance No. 18- 05 Chapter 108 - Resource Protection Standards In Process

Goal 7: Require a high standard of environmental protection in new subdivisions through regulations that protect forest stands and mature trees, stream valleys, steep slopes and waterways.

Action Items Implementation Status
Develop and enact an ordinance which protects steep slopes from development. Chapter 108 Resource Protection Standards Complete
Create a greenways checklist to be used as part of the development review process to include existing and proposed conditions and a construction management plan that addresses riverbank stabilization and slope treatment; trail and pedestrian connections; greenway plantings; existing retention areas and mitigation measures.   TBD
Prepare an environmental protection ordinance comprehensively integrates all existing and new development review requirements, including both high standards and flexibility for creative environmental protections. Chapter 108 Resource Protection Standards Complete

Goal 8: Meet or exceed regulatory goals for protecting the Port Tobacco River and Zekiah Swamp watersheds.

Action Items Implementation Status
Please see the Water Resources Element for actions related to this goal.  See Water Resources Element In Progress

Goal 9: Encourage programs and projects that connect residents to the town’s natural resources.

Action Items Implementation Status
Build relationships with non-profit conservation organizations who can assist individual landowners in preserving the important natural features on their properties    
Create environmental stewardship activities led by the Town or non-profit organizations.    
Include public access easements to parks and greenways in development reviews and approvals process. This might also include providing bicycle and pedestrian facilities, habitat viewing areas and interpretive signage highlighting natural features.    

Water Resources Element

Goal 10: Plan upgrades and enhancements to the Town's wastewater infrastructure to ensure that growth and development can be accommodated within the Chesapeake Bay Restoration framework.

Action Items Implementation Status
Continue to carefully monitor usage through regular updates of its Wastewater Capacity Management Plan and control allocations through its development and building permit approval processes.    
Incrementally expand wastewater plant from its current rated capacity of 1.5 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) to 2.0 MGD by 2030 to meet projected demands from growth and development.    
When considering annexation of potential municipal growth areasthat have failing septic systems, require that the County and property owners agree to a financial plan that will support connections to the wastewater treatment system at no capital expense to the Town. It is noted that planning consistency between the county and town is required to apply to the Bay Restoration Fund for this purpose.    
If determined to be prudent and feasible based on an ongoing evaluation, the Town will install flow equalization capacity at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to mitigate the impact of high peak flows. Such improvements would increase the performance of key treatment processes and enhance the plant’s overall reliability, especially during periods of heavy rain.    
As WWTP capacity is expanded to 2.0 MGD, the Town should begin to investigate new opportunities for mitigation, nutrient offset, level-of-treatment improvement, or alternative disposal regime, including the State’s new nutrient trading program.    
Because of the limitations imposed on the La Plata WWTP by the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), any increase of wastewater treatment capacity over 2.0 MGD will require some form to meet the ultimate treatment demand of 2.434 MGD, the Town will have to identify alternatives to offset almost 4,000 pounds of nitrogen and 340 pounds of phosphorus per year.    
The State of Maryland’s new nutrient trading regulation provide a framework for the buying and selling of nutrient credits to offset growth under the Bay TMDL. Purchasing credits may be a viable long-term solution to expand the WWTP beyond 2.0MGD.    
Alternative disposal, through spray irrigation, reuse, “purple pipe3 ” or other means is also a potential long-term strategy that the Town is considering addressing wastewater capacity limitations.    

Goal 11: Ensure that the future water supply needs of the Town can be met while preserving the longterm sustainability of shared groundwater resources.

Action Items Implementation Status
Implement water allocation and development approval policies that ensure that adequate production and distribution capacity exists prior to project approval. Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (DRAFT) In Process
Sunset pending allocations of water for developments that do not move forward within three years of approval. Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (DRAFT) In Process
Continue promotion of water conservation to reduce per capita water usage by 5% from 2012 usage levels.    
Perform regular comprehensive water system audits to minimize water losses from the system.    
Develop infrastructure to support the use of reclaimed, highly treated effluent for cooling water, irrigation, lawn watering, fire suppression, or other non-potable water uses.    
Develop alternative sources of water supply, including expanded development of groundwater and surface watersources.    
Connect with other water supply systems, such as the community of Waldorf, to create greater opportunities for resource balancing and enhancing system redundancy.    

Goal 12: Protect local watersheds by implementing protective development and stormwater management practices that minimize and mitigate the impact of additional runoff from new development.

Action Items Implementation Status
Completing the Town’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) restoration plan, mandated under the current Phase II MS4 General Permit and identify stormwater retrofit and watershed restoration projects that will contribute to the overall Chesapeake Bay TMDL effort.    
Implement the projects included in the MS4 restoration plan.    
Maximize opportunities to create new open space and green space within the downtown areas to reduce overall imperviousness and minimize stormwater runoff.    
Continue to track stormwater management facilities and impervious areas through its Stormwater Capacity Management Plan and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) MS4 permit annualreports.    
Target fee-in-lieu revenue to stormwater mitigation projects that support the Town’s overall watershed restoration program.    

Goal 13: Preserve and enhance high-quality and sensitive water resources impacted by growth and development.

Action Items Implementation Status
Limit waivers of stormwater management requirements in newly developed areas, particularly within sensitive and high-quality watersheds, to ensure that higher levels of treatment will be achieved in areas that are redeveloped and stormwater will be treated to the maximum extent practicable in newly developed areas.    
Focus reforestation efforts within watersheds that will benefit the most from the investment, particularly in the Jennie Run and Zekiah Swamp watersheds.    

Goal 14: Meet or exceed stormwater management goals as expressed in TMDL requirements.

Action Items Implementation Status
Identify a sustainable source of funding for the Town’s MS4 restoration plan, including funds needed for long-term maintenance, capital replacement, and MS4 permit compliance.    
Continue to work with Charles County to implement the Port Tobacco Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS).    
Work with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Charles County to explore nutrient trading and large-scale restoration projects as a long-term approach to managing stormwater waste load allocations.    

Transportation Element

Goal 15: Make strategic, proactive connections in the street grid to support economic and community development projects and better manage through traffic.

Action Items Implementation Status
Conduct and present to CSX Transportation (CSXT) an at-grade crossing study for potential new crossings identified as shown in Map 10. Use this study to establish the necessary mitigation measures that will be required at-grade crossings to be built.    
Advance concept development and preliminary engineering for key transportation investments so that they are ready to go as development and redevelopment investment becomes possible (see Map 10.)    
Acquire real estate options for future right-of-way acquisition necessary to construct road, establish right-of- way for preferred alignments in record plats.    
Consider Caroline Street extension over CSX.    
Work with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOTSHA) to improve access management along US 301.    

Goal 16: Continue to make La Plata a very walkable community.

  Implementation Status
Construct new sidewalks as follows: • Washington Avenue from Baltimore Street to Talbot Street and from Shining Willow Way to Heritage Green Parkway; • St. Mary’s Ave from Charles Street (MD 6) to the first commercial entrance; and, • Kent and N. Oak Streets between Charles Street and the Department of Social Services, however, there is first a need to reconsider the street connections to make for more logical flow of traffic within this area.    
Work with MDOT-SHA to improve pedestrian crossing locations along US 301.   On-going
Work with property owners along Charles Street and Washington Avenues to place planters or other attractive delineators of parking spaces from the sidewalk where such delineation does not clearly exist (see Figure 10.)    
In its annual list of priority transportation projects to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Town and Charles County should make a high priority request for sidewalks to be built on the east side of Crain Highway (US 301): • From La Plata Plaza North to Rosewick Road (approximately 3700’); and, • From 6620 Crain Highway to Talbot Street (approx. 810’).   On-going (Complete)
Be active in Tri-County Council’s Pedestrian Infrastructure Advisory Committee and participate in walkability audits and seek grants.   On-going
Work with the Police Department to incorporate enforcement and safety awareness programs for pedestrians and drivers in La Plata.   On-going

Goal 17: Better manage the supply of existing parking and limit new off-street parking.

  Implementation Status
Improve signage for off-street parking areas.    
Encourage shared parking spaces and reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements on a per development basis. Chapter 191- Zoning Code Parking Standards In Process

Goal 18: Support regionally significant transportation improvements.

  Implementation Status
Support the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project connecting the Branch Avenue Metro Station to White Plains.    
Request further study of the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Project to extend south to downtown La Plata.    

Municipal Services Element

Goal 19: Promote a culture of civic activism and community ownership.

Action items Implementation Status
The town should continue to invest in community activities that bring residents together and create strong civic bonds.    
The town should work to identify a diverse and growing group of residents to serve on its boards and commissions and to lead other beneficial programs to the community.    

Goal 20: Strengthen town services and programs with adequate staffing and technical expertise.

  Implementation Status
The town should consider adding program management staff to support implementation of capital projects as the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) develops.    
The town should consider hiring a community/economic development manager to help bring specific development projects to fruition.    
The town should consider establishing a coordinator of parks, environment and recreation programs.    

Goal 21: Establish a Capital Improvement Plan to guide town’s infrastructure investment.

  Implementation Status
A formal infrastructure assessment should occur and be used to guide capital replacement or rehabilitation of roads, buildings, water and sewersystems.    
The Town Council should adopt policies regarding the types of projects which may be considered for funding under the capital program.    
The Town Council should establish five-year budget targets for a Capital Improvement Plan to provide certainty that capital projects can move forward and establish a debt affordability goal which will guide Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) vs. bond-funded projectspending.    

Goal 22: Identify and develop municipal services which can be self-sustaining as a resource to other unincorporated areas of municipalities in the region.

  Implementation Status
The town should consider allowing its solid waste transfer station to be used by other municipalities.    

Community Development Element

Goal 23: Encourage mixed-use development in new subdivisions and in downtown redevelopment projects.

Action Items Implementation Status
The 2018 comprehensive rezoning ordinance establishes the regulatory structure to encourage infill development and encourage mixed use development at the La Plata Town Center. Town staff and the Planning Commission should continue to promote a mix housing types when considering development plans.    
Encourage relocation of uses that do not conform with neighboring zoning to decrease fragmented and uncoordinated uses.    
Staff and Planning Commission should review the plans with the infill and downtown development projects as priorities. This will help the Town from having multiple nodes and taking opportunities away from the Downtown area.    
The Town should support development proposals and programs that integrate various populations in order to successfully implement mixed-use development in and around the Downtown Core.    

Goal 24: Encourage a range of housing density, type, cost and size in new subdivisions to welcome a diverse population.

  Implementation Status
The Town should continue to support development proposals and programs that address the needs of senior and physically challenged population, to provide flexibility for the needs of such populations.    
La Plata should address the housing needs of those who are currently living in hotels and are underserved in the regular housing market.    
Planning Commission and Town staff should clearly outline the need for diverse housing and incentivize/ prioritize subdivisions being planned to meet the housing needs of the Town.    

Goal 25: Support “aging in place” initiatives to attract and retain La Plata’s senior citizens.

  Implementation Status
Encourage the use of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as defined in the Zoning Ordinance; this will allow development of ADUs in association with single family detached homes. These will help provide affordable housing options for low to moderate income workers, seniors, and recent college graduates as recommended in the 2009 Comprehensive Plan.    
Work with non-profit and local organizations that provide services for the seniors to increase the ability to “age in place” for community members.    
Plan for mixed-use developments that provide attractive amenities for seniors.    

Economic Development Element

Goal 26: Focus the town’s community and economic development efforts on the downtown core; demonstrate public investment to attract private capital.

Action Items Implementation Status
Ensure the availability of infrastructure and services that are essential to grown and sustain businesses by advancing actions in the Transportation Element.    
Harness redevelopment potential in downtown industrial sites, including proactive efforts and investments to relocate active businesses to more appropriate properties in theTown.    
Explore town-sponsored tax and financial incentives for downtown growth and development, including tax increment financing for infrastructure projects.    
Work with Charles County to establish a targeted loan program to encourage small business development for destination retail and a location-specific brand experience; support arts and entertainment district activities and their spin-off benefits.    
Develop a destination marketing strategy to bring retail customers off US 301 and into the downtown core, with a focus on commuters living south of La Plata and inVirginia.    

Goal 27: Support entrepreneurialism, workers in the “gig economy” and telecommuting.

  Implementation Status
Ensure that zoning ordinances permit home-based businesses, telecommuting and micro-manufacturing opportunities with appropriate safeguards for residential quality of life.    

Goal 28: Build on the town’s economic strengths.

  Implementation Status
Maximize the potential of the planned La Plata Library to provide a range of services with hours of operation well into the evening hours.    
Establish a “Community and Campus Zone for Hospitals and Health Care Facilities” which provides a predictable development environment for this sector.    

Recreation and Parks Element

Goal 29: Create strategically located, community and neighborhood parks.

Action Items Implementation Status
Use the 2011 La Plata Parks and Recreation Master Plan to determine the types of facilities needed in the Town.    
Create a 20-25 acre community park within Heritage Green that is accessible to residents of the entire town. The park should have indoor and outdoor amenities; paths and trails connecting the park to areas that are underserved and need a connection to a park.    
Create a community park in the downtown area.    
Add two neighborhood parks, one west of US 301 (10 to 15 acres) and one east of US 301 (20 to 30 acres).    
Add a natural resource area/ greenway that connects Rosewick Road south to the existing Clark Run natural area. This will serve as the north-south spine through the town.    
Plan for a town-wide walking/biking trail system which will be approximately 15 miles.    
Enhance existing parks and recreation areas.    

Goal 30: Meet identified facilities needs especially for indoor recreation and sports fitness, walking and swimming, and programming for youth, elderly and disabled residents.

Action Items Implementation Status
Review the 2011 La Plata Parks and Recreation Master Plan to prioritize the types of indoor facilities needed in the Town of La Plata. Basketball, sports fitness and swimming pools are the highest future demand indoor facilities.    
Continue to work with Charles County to ensure adequate senior trips and tours, special Olympic programs and youth programs are provided and are advertised to La Plata residents.    
Work with local organizations and Charles County to provide programs for the disabled.    
Incorporate multi-generational playgrounds to provide options for those who may not be as mobile and need the physical activity.    

Goal 31: Ensure that new development in Town provides on-site recreation and open space, but also contributes its fair share to the public Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS) system.

Action Items Implementation Status
When approving new development, the Town should consider the public PROS system needs and the recreation and open space needs internal and private to the development. The town should prioritize the public PROS system first.    
The Town Planning Commission should use the needs analysis from the 2011 Parks and Recreation Plan to identify needs as related to the new development under the Town’s development regulations.    
The Town should consider impact fees as a potential funding source for recreational facilities.    

Goal 32: Create a town-wide walking/biking trail system as recommended by the 2011 La Plata Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Action Items Implementation Status
Review the 2011 Parks and Recreation Plan to add trails and paths in recommended locations. Ensure trail and path recommendations do not have conflict with transportation plans for the Town.    
Connect Heritage Green, Clark Run greenway, Agricopia Park, Redwood Lake, East Patuxent Drive and future planned parks with one another.    
Create a natural resource area/ greenway along Clark Run as a spine through the heart of Town.