The Abingdon Community Council started its August meeting as it was called to order by President Cynthia Hergenhahn. Harford County Sheriff’s Office representative Capt. Christopher Swain started the meeting by stating his office had nothing to report as the Sheriff’s Department is in the process of switching to a new database, making crime statistics unavailable. He also added that there have been no major crime trends in Abingdon recently.
Morita Bruce, President of Friends of Harford, conducted the major portion of the meeting. Friends of Harford is an organization focused on maintaining responsible development in Harford County. Bruce broke down the process as well as some content of the Harford County Master Plan, which is in the process of being updated. The reason for her presentation, which was the first part of what is intended to be a two-part presentation, was to educate those in attendance about the Harford County Master Plan so they will have enough background to engage the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning during its third community input session on proposed updates to the plan this October.
Bruce explained the Development Envelope as an area designated by the Master Plan as the segment of the county in which new development is allowed. She stressed the importance of maintaining the boundaries of the envelope instead of increasing sprawl. A statistic presented estimated that there is sufficient capacity to meet the county’s commercial space needs for the next 60 years and residential land capacity for the next 28 years, as was stated by the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning. She also stressed a need for Harford County to attempt to improve quality of life within the Development Envelope by redeveloping instead of building on new land and creating mixed-use communities. The success of mixed-use in Reston, Virginia was cited. Bruce identified difficulty in obtaining this goal as there is such a large quantity of land zoned for development within the county that it presents little incentive for developers to redevelop land and makes it easier and cheaper for new land to be developed.
To arm attendees with a few ideas, Bruce called attention to a need for the creation and adherence to policies aimed at protecting quality of life for those living within the Development Envelope. Policies cited referred to excessive light, excessive noise, green spaces or parks, sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways, traffic issues, congestion at shopping areas and conversion of residential streets to thru-ways.
At the conclusion of Bruce’s presentation, Hergenhahn stated that the Abingdon Community Council, with the help of community attendees, would attempt to formulate criteria for an Abingdon Community Plan to present to the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning somewhere around December of this year.
The Abingdon Community Council meets every fourth Monday of every month at 6:30 at the Emmorton Library. The next meeting will be Monday, September 26. Bruce will be the guest speaker for part two of her presentation on the Harford County Master Plan.