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The Tentacle


October 6, 2011

Just Do It! Itís good for you!

Blaine R. Young

My September letters to the editor of The Baltimore Sun and The Frederick News-Post on PlanMaryland has generated significant comment here and elsewhere around the state. Good.

 

The main thrust of my letters was that I was concerned that this draconian policy was being implemented in something of a stealth mode, without full airing and debate by the General Assembly during the legislative session that begins in January. The more people aware of it – and are discussing it – the happier I am.

 

I do, however, want to address comments recently published from Maryland Planning Secretary Robert Hall, and an officer of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Kim Coble. First, concerning Secretary Hall remarks. Once we get past the party-line defense of Smart Growth and centralized state planning we have come to expect from the liberal O’Malley Administration, one thing did stand out. Secretary Hall cites hearing from certain Frederick County residents who have “…raised fears recently about progress being undone.”

 

This is a thinly veiled reference to the process recently undertaken by the Board of County Commissioners to allow property owners who suffered the theft of their property rights by the prior board to apply to have their zoning or comprehensive plan designations restored.

 

Four of the five members of this commissioners’ board have been consistent from the beginning. We made a campaign promise on September 26, 2010, that we would institute such a process, and we are keeping our word. This is not about opening up rural areas for development or granting special favors for spot zoning to people who did not previously have zoning. It is simply about fairness and about giving people back what they had worked so hard to protect for so many years.

 

And I really wonder what Secretary Hall is so concerned about. The only thing that four of the five current commissioners have discussed is to revert to the comprehensive plan which was in effect before the prior board took office.

 

The previous comprehensive plan was adopted in a series of eight region plans approved between 1997 and 2006. Each of these region plans was approved by the commissioners in office at the time, and then submitted to the Maryland Department of Planning for full comment.

 

The one thing that all eight of these region plans had in common was that when they were reviewed by the Maryland Department of Planning, the person in charge was Secretary Robert Hall. That’s right! Secretary Hall was either the Secretary of the department or the director of Land Use when all eight of the prior region plans were reviewed by the Maryland Department of Planning.

 

So, the real question is, if Secretary Hall didn’t have any problem with those region plans when they were submitted to him for review, why is he so concerned about our proposal to reinstate them?

 

Secondly, I would like to comment on a letter published in The Frederick News-Post on October 2nd from Kim Coble, an officer of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She takes issue with certain statements of members of the Board of County Commissioners objecting to the dramatic and exorbitant cost we would incur to implement new storm water management and other pollution control measures proposed by the state and federal governments.

 

Miss Coble refers to these new regulations as our “pollution diet.” That’s right! It’s just like when your mother told you to eat your vegetables because “they are good for you.”

 

People like Miss Coble, who have never seen a government regulation they don’t like, think they have some kind of God-given right to take money out of our pockets because “it is good for us.” What Miss Coble doesn’t say in her letter is that current estimates from professional staff have pegged the cost to Frederick County at $900 million in taxpayer money over the next five years and up to $4 billion out of Frederick County pockets if private property owners are also required to retrofit their property.

 

A study by the state’s policy group estimates statewide the cost of complying with only the proposed Maryland regulations (forgetting the federal government for the moment) will be $11 billion in cash, and an additional $10 billion hit to the economy, for a total economic impact of $21 billion over five years.

 

If this is “what’s good for us,” I would really hate to see what is bad for us. And if this is a “diet” for the taxpayers of the State of Maryland, I believe it is a fatal starvation diet. We simply cannot afford it.

 

Blaine@blaineyoung.com

 



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