On Tuesday, March 7, the Charles County Commissioners approved the county’s annual transportation priority letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation. The letter prioritizes the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit, improvements to the US 301 Waldorf corridor, pedestrian safety enhancements at US 301/Smallwood Drive and MD 228/Western Parkway, projects to improve the Hughesville area, and Governor Harry W. Nice/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton bridge replacement project.

The State Highway Administration planning priorities, transit-related projects, and requests for support from the Town of La Plata were also presented during the meeting.

Associate County Attorney Danielle Mitchell provided a legislative update for the 2023 Maryland General Assembly Session. Senate hearings have been held on all the bills related to the Commissioners’ proposed legislative package. Mitchell shared a letter of opposition from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education for House Bill 294/Senate Bill 926, which shifts the burden of proof in administrative due process hearings for parents or caregivers who challenge an IEP designation. The Charles County Board of Education opposes the bill.

Planning and Growth Management staff presented a briefing and request for a public hearing for the zoning map amendment to the Maryland Garden Property. The applicant is requesting land be rezoned from residential to commercial for an area located at the corner of Billingsley Road, Old Washington Road, and Crain Highway in White Plains. Commissioners scheduled an in-person public hearing on Tue, Apr. 18, and a virtual public hearing on Wed, Apr. 19.

State Senator Arthur Ellis presented a briefing on Senate Bill 130, which requests the Maryland Stadium Authority to review and make recommendations regarding the acquisition, financing, and construction of the Charles County Sports and Wellness Center, to be transferred and owned by Charles County Government.

The Board of Education’s request for a commitment from the Commissioners to provide additional funds in the new elementary school project in the FY2024 budget to allow them to award the construction contract and begin work prior to the FY 2024 budget adoption was approved.

Changes to the standard operating procedures for Commissioners accounts and expense policy were also approved. The Commissioners amended the procedures to ensure transparency by signing their expense report monthly and providing an annual public audit of their expenditures.

The County Commissioners held a hybrid public hearing on the use of Community Development Block Grant funds for the Westdale Stream Relocation project. The project seeks to relocate the stream off private properties to reduce ongoing property damages while increasing water quality and improving wildlife habitat.

The Commissioners also proclaimed March as National Women’s History Month and National Agriculture Day.

The public can provide feedback on meeting agenda items by using the “e-comments” feature that is being tested for Commissioner agenda items on the county’s website. The Commissioners approved a six-month trial period of option one for in-person and virtual public comment periods.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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