Senators: Keep planning local


Plan Maryland is an attempt by Gov. Martin O'Malley and Planning Secretary Richard Hall to seize planning authority from local governments in a sweeping political power play.

What they are calling a "smart growth" plan equates to no-growth in many parts of the state.

Plan Maryland is a far-reaching, state-wide centralized planning initiative that, if not stopped, will be implemented by the Administration as early as next month. Spearheaded by Gov. O'Malley and Maryland's Department of Planning, the Plan will direct growth only where there is existing infrastructure; according to the Plan's growth maps, most growth will be allowed only in Baltimore and in the Washington suburbs.

The Plan lavishes state money for roads, sewer and water in the Baltimore-Washington corridor and starves the rest of the state. More specifically, it directs state agencies to spend growth-related funds only in specific areas handpicked by the Department of Planning that they decided are allowed to grow.  That means many Maryland communities would not be eligible for state funds for new school construction or new roads. It also means there will be no job growth outside these handpicked areas.

Gov. O'Malley is dusting off an antiquated and highly controversial piece of legislation from 1974 to use as the authority to make these radical changes to land use in Maryland without a new vote from the General Assembly. If Plan Maryland goes unchallenged, Secretary Hall will become the land czar of Maryland, controlling where we live and where we work.  

A radical and overzealous policy change that adversely affects many Maryland communities should be vetted through the General Assembly, not acted on unilaterally by the Governor. It should have a hearing where citizens can weigh in and it should be scrutinized by the legislative body.

I understand the necessity for planning for future growth, but one size does not fit all and the counties should maintain their zoning prerogative.  Local land use decisions should remain with the local elected officials who are accountable to the people who elected them.

What you can do: voice your opposition by contacting the following people:

Secretary of Planning Richard Hall, 410-767-4510,; Gov. O'Malley, 410-974-3901; Del. Maggie McIntosh,, Annapolis office, 410-841-3990.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs and Sen. Barry Glassman

Southern and Northern Harford, respectively

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