County kicks off Comprehensive Plan meetings in Hancock

by Geoff Fox

Washington County officials held the first of six public information meetings regarding the Comprehensive Plan 2040 in Hancock last Wednesday evening, August 23. A handful of people showed up for the presentation.

The last time Washington County approved a Comprehensive Plan was in 2002.

The majority of the plan is geared toward the Hagerstown area and Hancock itself won’t see much change under the updated Comprehensive Plan being proposed.

The county’s proposed Comprehensive Plan includes data and trend analysis on a variety of topics, from transportation needs and improvements, housing needs and inventory, schools, recreational facilities, historical properties and regions, health and human service needs and resources, economic development and environmental protection.

Director/Zoning Administrator Jill Baker opened the meeting and explained what the evening would consist of and introduced other staff members joining her for the meeting.

Director/Zoning Administrator Jill Baker describes future land use in the Hancock to residents during the first Comprehensive Plan 2040 meeting the county has scheduled over the next couple months.

Baker told those in attendance county staff would be able to answer questions and go over the plan. The document itself is 400 pages.

“We don’t expect anybody to read 400 pages,” she said.

Joining Baker was Comprehensive Planner Travis Allen, GIS Technician John Baker, Land Preservation Planner Christopher Boggs, and GIS Coordinator/Historic District Commission Meghan Jenkins.

Each staff person was available to answer questions.

Jill Baker said they would take comments from the public back to the county’s Planning Commission and go back through the draft of the Comprehensive Plan again, tweaking the draft based on the public comments.

Once the draft is complete, county staff will take the draft to county commissioners for their review. Baker said commissioners would then review the draft and make comments before it goes back, once again, to the county’s Planning Commission.

Once it goes back through the Planning Commission, Baker said the document would be ready for adoption.

“This is going to be a very long process, so don’t feel like this is your one and only opportunity,” Baker said, noting there are five more meetings scheduled throughout the county.

Those meeting are August 31 at the Clear Spring Fire Company at 6 p.m., September 21 at the Shafer Park Community Center in Boonsboro at 6p.m., September 25 at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown at 5:30 p.m., October 10 at Smithsburg Town Hall at 6 p.m., and October 25 at the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Company Banquet Hall at 6 p.m.

Baker said any county resident is welcome to come to those meetings as they see fit.

The comment period for the document is currently open and will close on October 31.

“At that point, we’re going to close the comment period just so that we have a stopping point so that we can gather all the comments up and, like I said, go back into draft mode,” Baker said.

Baker then played a 16-minute video outlining a portion of the plan.

The entire 400-page Comprehensive Plan document can be found on the county’s website at as both a “book” and PDF file.

Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].