www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-smart-growth-letter-20110818,0,3329711.story

baltimoresun.com

Smart growth doesn't mean no growth

2:00 PM EDT, August 18, 2011

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I agree with the conclusion of your editorial "Drawing the line on development" (Aug. 10): Smart growth is not no growth. It is growth that maximizes the public investment in existing infrastructure and minimizes costly environmental impact.

The pressures your editorial cited are precisely why the O'Malley administration successfully pushed in 2009 for passage of the Smart, Green & Growing Act. It requires zoning to support comprehensive local plans so that land use truly aligns with a community's stated planning goals.

The scenario you described is also the reason we are working on PlanMaryland, the first state growth plan. We've received numerous comments from residents since we released the draft in April. We encourage additional comment through Sept. 1 at the website Plan.Maryland.gov.

PlanMaryland is designed to improve the way in which state agencies and local governments work together to accomplish common objectives for growth, development and preservation.

The goals are significant: Accommodate a projected 1 million additional Marylanders by the year 2035 without sacrificing our agricultural and natural resources; stimulate economic development and revitalization in towns, cities and other existing communities that have facilities to support growth; save 400,000 acres of farmland and forest over the next 25 years; and save billions of public dollars in new road construction, water/sewer and school construction costs through a smart-growth approach.

The Plan is not top-down or "one size fits all." But we can no longer ignore the rapid pace of land consumption, which since 1970 has escalated at double the rate of housing growth and triple the rate of population increase in Maryland. We need to change business as usual to ensure the protection of our land, farms, water, air quality and quality of life.

Richard Eberhart Hall, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning.