O’Malley Presents Maryland Growth Plan At Summer Conference

OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Maryland county officials wary of a statewide plan for sustainable growth told state officials on Friday that the plan will create a fundamental change in state land-use policy and limit local control.

At issue is PlanMaryland, a statewide effort to prevent sprawl in one of the nation’s most densely populated states. Doug Howard, president of the Carroll County Commission, said county officials would like six months longer to digest the plan and discuss it with citizens. Howard, a Republican, asked a panel of state officials, “Why the rush?”

Bob Simmons, a Queen Anne’s County commissioner, said even more time was needed.

“We need a year to discuss it before the public and get it digested,” Simmons, a Republican, said during a question-and-answer period in a crowded convention room at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference.

A public comment period on the plan ends Sept. 1, but there will be an additional comment period after that. Richard Hall, the state’s secretary for the department of planning, said another draft plan will be issued in September. There will be an additional 30 days review period to review it. The plan will then be presented to Gov. Martin O’Malley in October.

O’Malley, a Democrat, began a presentation on the plan by underscoring how Maryland has grown to be the fifth most densely populated state in the nation, and he said the “red light is blinking” in warning to form a comprehensive development plan before sprawl consumes too much forest and agricultural land. The governor also noted that lawmakers decided in 1974 that the state needs a development plan, and Maryland still doesn’t have one.

“One of the things that the maps have been telling us, I think pretty loudly and clearly, is that we have been failing for a generation or more to really grow in a way that is sustainable, that is smart and that uses this limited resource of ours — the land — in the best and most effective way possible,” O’Malley said after the panel discussion.

The governor also said there’s nothing in the plan that takes away local authority.

“There’s nothing in this plan that takes back your local land use decision-making authority, but there will be things in this plan that guide us as we make investments at the state level on a whole bunch of things that support the quality of life that the people you and I both serve, whether it’s public schools, whether it’s public roads, whether it’s wastewater treatment plants and those sorts of things,” O’Malley said.

Under the plan, the state will make spending decisions on infrastructure based on how well counties follow the plan.

O’Malley was blunt in describing the process while talking with reporters.

“This is not a law that prohibits counties from making stupid land use decisions,” the governor said. “They’re still free to do that, but we’re not going to subsidize it anymore.”

O’Malley also emphasized that the process will be gradual.

“You will see it over time affecting all of our capital decisions,” O’Malley said. “There will not be a sort of, you know, thunderbolt on the road to Damascus, though. This is going to be an evolving process.”

Some county officials are equally blunt in describing their views that local officials will lose power under the plan.

“To me, it may be good intentioned, but in my opinion what they say that it’s not is exactly what it is, and that is that it’s going to be force-fed from the top down and mandated and dictated, if you don’t get on with the program,” said Blaine Young, president of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners.

A state analysis released Thursday by the state’s department of planning found that developed lands in the state increased 8.4 percent between 2002 and 2010. Hall cited the study as evidence that a state growth plan is needed, because the data shows Maryland has developed more than 1.6 million acres, or about 27 percent of the state’s total land area. Hall said that is more than double the 654,000 acres surveyed in 1973, which constituted about 11 percent of the state’s land area.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • overregulated

    Be very, very scared. Property rights in Maryland will be taken from individual property owners and the State will tell you where, when, how and what you do with your property.

    We are one the most regulated states already, and many of those regulations have damaged property rights, the tax base and our economy. Now the state wants complete and total control of your property and your lives.

    This is a nation founded on rights, not total government control. PlanMaryland has been snuck through in the cowardly fashion that has become commonplace with the corrupt Democrats that rule our state. Have a few unadvertised phoney public meetings and BAM! you get your rights stripped away.

    How much more can they do to us until we stand up and choke the streets of Annapolistan?

  • Complete Agreement

    Maryland state government is comprised of self-serving Nazi officials.
    Property rights? What are you talking about? There are no property rights in Maryland, unless you include the owner’s right to abide by state imposed regulations, and to pay steadily increasing taxes on that property (while the property value declines). Out-o-state buyers have gotten the message about Maryland: “Stay Away”. Think that the housing market is slumped in other areas? Try convincing a house-shopper to pay mega-state taxes on a property for sale in MD, and then ask what he is willing to offer for it. Eventually, Md state will step in and set the asking price for you.

    • bob smith

      If Maryland is to grow, a mew Governor and state legislators are a first step!

  • Ben Cudin

    Yhe only thing growing under O’Malley is state government.

  • Heraldo

    Maryland’s Governor is a total flop!

  • oinker1

    remember when O Malley ran for office on the saying “no new taxes” or fees. what do we have now, he uses the word “BALANCE” what’s the difference. and he as hopes of running for president one day. who is going to stepup and save the little guy?

  • kayakjack

    Um, let’s see . . . I thought the State would have already had a plan in place. Now we find out that they don’t, and that it was recommended in 1974. Let’s see, that’s almost 4 decades operating without a plan, through numerous administrations, both Democrat and Republicans. Any business person knows that you need a plan. I tell you what, we should all have a plan, and that’s to identify and elect people who will actually work for their salaries that our tax dollars fund.

  • Al Reasin

    Governor O’Malley and Sec. Hall of the Office of State Planning have misrepresented PlanMaryland. I attended and filmed for the Cecil County Patriots and other interested parties on July 1, 2011 a meeting with Sec. Hall, where he said that the plan would not supersede local zoning or growth plans. Unfortunately, the draft of PlanMD does exactly that. The Cecil County Comprehensive Plan, which has been approved by the state, established the main growth area as the corridor along the Route 40/I-95 corridor between Perryville on the Susquehanna River to Elkton at the Delaware line. The growth map provided in PlanMD for that area only allows growth in the 3 towns within the Cecil County Comprehensive Plan; Elkton, North East and Perryville. The former Navy base, Bainbridge, was not on the state’s map.

    Additionally there are unintended consequences of limiting the growth areas to those proposed by PlanMD. President Obama issued an executive order in 2009 to save the Chesapeake Bay. The requirements of this and Maryland initiatives have caused the county to determine that a way to comply with these initiatives and help reduce releases to the bay is to extend the county’s sewage system to areas adjacent to the bay. Thus this proposal would replace private septic systems that are believed to be endangering the bay’s ecology. Now PlanMD comes along and does not permit the extension of the county’s sewage system to serve these areas because they are outside of the designated growth areas. Even without PlanMD being in place, reportedly Chesapeake City’s request for state money to integrate their water system is dependent upon limiting the town’s growth.

    A final problem is that the governor, to my knowledge, has not committed to obtaining approval of this plan through legislative action instead of through an Executive Order. I asked some attendees of the Ocean City meeting to present that question to the governor to obtain a public commitment that the legislature, with the normal public hearings and examinations, would have to vote on implementing PlanMD; unlike President Obama’s Executive Orders on saving the Chesapeake Bay or implementing his Rural Council to do to the nation what Governor O’Malley wants to do to Maryland.

    The video of the July meeting will be uploaded to the Cecil County Patriots website, http://www.cecilcountypartriots.com, in the near future

    The bottom line is as Thomas Jefferson wrote to a historian in 1812, “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” PlanMaryland encroaches even more on Marylander’s property rights.

  • Hidlins

    The fact that Maryland is a sanctuary state has nothing to do with the increased population does it! The entire Chesapeake Bay area now has 66% more ‘illegals’ living there and that’s just within the last 10 years. And that doesn’t include the increase in illegals in the rest of the state. Check out OweMalley’s “reoprt of his “New Americans” on his website. Wow are those folk wonderful!!! Either stay and actively fight the present system or move…that’s out only choice. I’m beginning to think that their aren’t enough hours in the day to write all the letters all who need to receive them. I’m setting myself up to move…to Costa Rica! This state is going down the tubes…and fast!

    • kayakjack

      Hello Hidlins – would you kindly provide the trail to find the report of his New Americans on O’Malley’s website? I’m have some difficulty locating it. Thank you for your help. Best Regards, kayakjack

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