Wicomico Council Discusses Tier Maps, Comp Plan

SALISBURY — Wicomico County’s Comprehensive Plan is well down the road to development and ready to be adopted in the near future.

Prior to that, some on the County Council this week questioned whether tier maps needed to be in place before the plan was locked in.

Councilman Bob Culver raised his concerns over whether it makes sense to move forward with the plan before resolving Wicomico’s longstanding questions over septic tier mapping.

“I’d really rather see us get a tier map done and then adopt this here along with it … I just feel like if we adopt this and then end up with a tier map then we’re going to have to re-do all of this, to a certain extent,” he said.

Tier mapping would divide Wicomico into four different zones. Some of the zones would be required to develop property only when connected to public sewer while other zones could still build on septic systems. There has been significant controversy over the tiers on the Eastern Shore, and Culver wants all issues laid to rest on that front before adopting the comprehensive plan.

“Let’s get [tiers] back on the table and get it done before we keep wasting our time with this because that would alleviate some of the stuff with [the comp plan],” he said.

Culver added that between the tiers and the plan his primary goal is the protection of people’s property rights and keeping land “in the control of our people.”

Keith Cordrey, director of internal services for the county, said that he recognized the controversy with the tier maps but didn’t believe that there was too much of a conflict between the comprehensive plan and the tiers in moving both forward.

“Ideally, the state would like to see [tiers] within the plan as an appendix item,” Cordrey said.

Considerable man hours have already been devoted by staff to ironing out a plan that works. Comparing the tiers to the comp plan, the two end up being parts of a total whole, Cordrey said.

There has also been significant public comment on both items with the comp plan especially going through a long vetting process.

“Another major component of that is coming up with a public participation plan. The last thing that you want to do in the planning world is go out to the public with a plan in your back pocket, that they don’t feel like they are invested in, that they do not feel like it reflects their goals, their visions and their objectives of how they see Wicomico County,” said Cordrey.

No one should be surprised with anything that is going on with tiers or the plan, he added, as transparency has been the key word as the plan has been formulated.

Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman asked if public comment on the plan was wide ranging or if a few special interest groups have been dominating the discussion. Cordrey assured her that comments have come in from a lot of varied sources. The discussion has been going on so long and covered so much that Cordrey believes there aren’t any surprises as the county moves forward with setting a plan in place.

“We’ve been receiving less and less comments as time goes on. I’d like to think that we’ve heard everything that anybody can possibly say at this point,” he said. “We’ve encouraged people to have any level of involvement with the document that they want.”

The council decided to focus on some more work sessions this summer to iron out any remaining kinks so that the comp plan will be poised for adoption this fall or winter. Further discussion on the plan and tier maps is expected at the council’s next meeting.