Two former governors joined Gov. Martin O'Malley Monday morning at a State House news conference marking the formal adoption of Plan Maryland, a growth management framework that has aroused opposition in parts of rural Maryland.

Harry R. Hughes and Parris N. Glendening praised the plan as a continuation of their efforts while in office to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Hughes, 85, joked that "at my age, it's good to be anywhere." The former governor, who served from 1979 to 1987, appeared to be in excellent health and spirits and had a long conversation with Glendening, who served from 1995 to 2003.

Glendening, 69, praised Plan Maryland as a "major movement ahead." The plan spells out criteria for judging which types of development projects are viewed as desirable -- and worthy of state infrastructure spending.

"Land use planning is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for people who are anxious to get things done quickly," said Glendening. The plan has been four years in the development process and takes its statutory authority from a law passed by the General Assembly in 1959.