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As Long as We Remember...

August 24, 2011

Invasive State Control of Growth Part 2

Farrell Keough

Yesterday we began a conversation on the O’Malley Administration’s proposal entitled PlanMaryland. We covered two areas: Unmanaged Development and Smart Growth as driving factors to promote and justify this plan. We saw that the crisis portrayed about growth is not quantifiable by the actual data and the public is not embracing the concepts of Smart Growth.


Today we will cover a couple of other areas teased from the plan. Let’s delved directly into this analysis.


State will wrest complete control


Formation of this plan starts exclusively with the state and the governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet6 and through the use of a simple model called GrowthPrint.5 Only after these designations are put into place will localities be allowed to enter into the discussion. Once this is completed, land-owners and other interested parties will be given a seat at the table, but only to determine what course of action they can take regarding decisions which have already been made.9


Designated Places and other Planning Areas will be recognized in PlanMaryland in two stages: first through Initial State Designations in the 2011 Plan, followed by State/Local Designations that will result from a State/Local Designation process... There is no set time period for the Initial State Designation to be replaced by another Designated Place or Planning Area. 7


Designated Places and implementation strategies will establish shared commitments for State agencies and local governments. To ensure that these commitments are sustained, the Smart Growth Subcabinet will oversee a PlanMaryland Consistency Process. State agencies and local governments contemplating actions that might contradict established goals and commitments will be responsible for bringing the actions to the Consistency Process for review. The process will seek to ensure two outcomes: (1) that the actions support the goals of the plan and (2) that State commitments to target limited capital and non-capital resources continue to contribute most effectively to the achievement of plan goals.8


Once all the land in Maryland is classified, some will become “Designated Places” for growth while others will become “Designated Places” for conservation.10


Not only will PlanMaryland be a top down approach, but neither local government nor property owners will have input during the rulemaking process. For instance, GrowthPrint is one of the mapping tools used by the state to establish zoning areas. Per the GrowthPrint website, the data for this GIS planning tool will not be available, only some of the maps can be downloaded.11 When a central planning tool is not available to either affected property owners or local governmental, one has to question if, in fact, this plan will include necessary input from those directly affected.


A plan with ramifications as broad as PlanMaryland must have input, not only from local government representatives, but also affected property owners. Along with sound justification for such a plan, community buy-in is imperative when presenting such far ranging changes to long established property rights and local control of zoning and planning.


Global Warming/Climate Change


The hypothesis of Global Warming/Climate Change has a varied and sometimes dubious history. Recently released emails from many of the primary scientists involved in the formation of this hypothesis have put into doubt the integrity of the peer review. Nonetheless, the plan still proposes to leverage the concepts behind Global Warming/Climate Change to restrict and regulate.


GHGs [GreenHouse Gases] from energy generation may be reduced compared to these forecasts now that Maryland has joined nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This initiative establishes a cap-and-trade system to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector by 10 percent by 2018.


Overall, Smart Growth can significantly decrease future GHG emissions from new development. In Growing Cooler, the authors conclude that higher densities, higher gasoline prices, less highway expansion, and more transit service can reduce the annual VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] growth rate by 38% below current trends. The authors also found that with compact development, people drive 20 to 40 percent less, at minimal or reduced cost, while reaping fiscal and health benefits.12


As noted previously, the concepts and regulatory impetus behind Smart Growth are not being embraced by a preponderance of the public. This aside, initiatives like cap-and-trade could not endure the examination of lawmakers and the economists. Having failed our representative democracy process, this backdoor approach of having various states join into an agreement may well prove to be unacceptable to citizens when the resulting costs and burdens are revealed.


Along with this Smart Growth regulatory approach, the proposal to reduced vehicle miles traveled will also have tremendous secondary effects. As noted previously, Maryland’s proximity to our nation’s capital ensures a preponderance of jobs will always be connected with the federal government. To that end, movement of large portions of the public will always be required. Compact development coupled with even the best intentions of mass transportation cannot mitigate this fact of life in Maryland – automobiles will continue to be a major necessity to a large portion of the public.


Yet, even without these areas of doubt, a Montana State Supreme Court decision 13 creates a precedent in which the use of Global Warming/Climate Change cannot be used as a regulatory justification. In its rendering of this opinion, the Montana Supreme Court realized there is no consensus about Global Warming/Climate Change, (per the signatures of over 1,000 scientists who oppose this claimed consensus) and that the science surrounding this hypothesis is far from settled. To that end, using Global Warming/Climate Change as a justification for such regulatory approaches will be open to lawsuits with an established precedent going against the state – this seems to create a recipe for failure.


[Editor’s Note: This is the second of four parts of Mr. Keough’s analysis of PlanMaryland. Part 3 will appear tomorrow.]


5 Draft PlanMaryland 4-2


6 Draft PlanMaryland 4-58, 59


7Draft PlanMaryland 4-60


8Executive Summary p.4, 5


9 Draft PlanMaryland p.1-4, 5


10 Draft PlanMaryland 4-5


11GrowthPrint Frequently Asked Questions :


12Draft PlanMaryland 2-43


13 “MT Supreme Court rejects "climate change" lawsuit”, June 15, 2011, KTVQ


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