Will commissioners' barking about Plan Maryland be more fierce than the bite?

As Carroll County commissioners Richard Rothschild and Robin Frazier spoke recently during a slide presentation on their goals/visions in the 2010 Master Plan, I found myself thinking, "I've heard this tune before."

But I hadn't heard it on WTTR — no, it was at the public meetings where the commissioners tried to explain in January why the a land-use plan submitted by the Planning Commission in January was dead on arrival.

Seven months passed before the commissioners got around to making recommendations they considered necessary to gain the board's approval. To me, that delay was ludicrous (especially considering that it only took 17 weeks for our founding fathers to hammer out the Constitution).

While the commissioners seemed bent on damning the master plan proposal, they can't match the dramatic gesture made by the late former commissioner Ben Brown, who in a 1998 public meeting showing his contempt for the 1964 master plan, ripped it apart.

Now, realistically, I don't believe there's any way the planning commission will adopt the recommendation to remove reference to smart growth and sustainability, especially given that it would put the county in conflict with state laws and the state Department of Planning's policies and visions concerning land-use (as highlighted in its draft of Plan Maryland).

If, however, Rothschild and Frazier are able to convince other commissioners to join them  in engaging the state over whose land-use policies will prevail in Carroll, they'd be going down a road where angels fear to tread. 

Moreover, such a misadventure could prove costly to the county, if the state were to exercise its authority to withhold funds to the county for noncompliance with the 1997 Smart Growth and Conservation Act.

That act specifies that:

"State will not put its funds where development is low in density … where there must be an average density of 3.5 dwelling units per acre to qualify for state funds … and is prohibited from funding growth-related projects not located in a Priority Funding area."

The act also has the caveat that, "counties may designate areas planned for new residential communities, provided they will be served by water and sewer systems and meet density standards."

In the final analysis, I'm confident (or fairly so), that the other commissioners would not be so foolhardy as to jump on the bandwagon headed on a collision course with the all-powerful (if not all-knowing) state government.

But one never knows.

All of the commissioners chose not to attend the Plan Maryland presentation held July 28 at Carroll Community College. (See page 4.)

Board President Doug Howard issued a statement about the session, saying board members did not attend because, "we were not asked to participate as a board," and that members will attend workshops about Plan Maryland at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in mid-August.

He also said the commissioners will host their own Community Forum on Plan Maryland on Monday, Aug. 29, with a discussion on Aug. 30 to formulate the board's comments.

So I suppose their overall stance — and their strategy to realize it — remains to be seen. Hope springs eternal. Sadly, so does disappointment.

Quote of the week: "Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining." — Mason Cooley

For more David Grand, go to davgrand.wordpress.com.

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