In an opinion column last week, Commissioner Richard Rothschild put forth his thoughts on the content of something called "Vision 2030." Now, I usually find the commissioner's views really far different than my own, but on this occasion he brings up some perfectly valid points about this document and how it was put together.
I agree that Commissioner Doug Howard, who originated the idea, should have had some sort of open application process for those serving on the task force rather than personally hand picking the group. I also agree with Rothschild that representatives from the county Planning & Zoning Department, someone from the budget area, as well as representatives from the municipalities and the unincorporated recognized communities should be represented also.
Additionally I agree that the group's meetings should have been advertised and open for public attendance and possibly comment. One point in his column that I found a bit incongruous, even though accurate, was that the task force violated the Open Meetings Act. This was an accusation from a commissioner who served on a board which was charged with violating the Open Meetings Act more than any in recent memory. Another point made with which I agree was that the Vision 2030 task force's recommendations were posted and credited to Carroll County without being brought before the board of vommissioners for review.
Rothschild has a dim view of projections of this type, calling them "happy talk" and "feel good stuff." I am of the opinion that such long range projections, if done properly and with as much public input as is practical, can at the least give some ideas as to where we might be in the future in a general sort of way. Specific planning has to be on a much shorter calendar.
Some of the visions in the document, such as "Carroll County will have advanced transportation," leave some questions, such as what kind of system, does the prospect lead to greater possibilities in attracting more industrial investment which would increase the tax base, would such a system connect with other regional systems, where and how? Another point has to do with renewable energy possibilities. What sort of renewable energy is being considered; solar, wind, small scale hydroelectric, geothermal? What would be the cost of such systems and who would pay for the construction and distribution of the energy developed?
Rothschild has his view of how governments should work and he does have a loyal following, but sometimes I think that he forgets that Carroll County is part of a larger whole and needs to participate with the surrounding areas in order to achieve our particular goals. In his piece he re-states one of the "visions," that the county is "more forward thinking," and his question was, "Are they suggesting that we are now backward thinking?" My view is not that we're backward thinking, but that certain political factions are a bit isolationist when it comes to working regionally, and that might be construed as backward thinking.
In conclusion, I must agree for the most part with the commissioner in his assessment of the Vision 2030 document and the process by which it was produced, but I do think that such a general outlook for the future can be helpful in brainstorming ideas for more specific goals and objectives for the shorter term. Perhaps such a committee could be put together to better project a vision for 2030, 2040, 2050, or beyond.
I may not be the first, but I want to wish all of you a Happy Hanukah, A Merry and Blessed Christmas, Happy Kwanza, a joyous Winter Solstice celebration, and a Happy New Year too.
Please drive safely and don't drink and drive. I want to keep all of my readers.
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Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. Email him at email@example.com.