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As Long as We Remember...

September 8, 2011

Under The Guise of Protection

Blaine R. Young

Every 10 years or so our wonderful liberal Democrat leaders in Annapolis come up with a new statewide land use plan that they have concocted “for our own good.” This year they have introduced us to PlanMaryland as the latest of the so-called “Smart Growth” ideas.


After reading this new plan and debating it at the MACO conference in Ocean City, I question whether PlanMaryland is as much Smart Growth as it is partisan planning.


Liberals are great at choosing words to attach to their latest tax and spend social programs that need to be explained to the average citizen. They like to use the term “grant,” which translates to a “program;” which involves a “subsidy,” which means “public assistance,” which – in the end – means a “handout.” But because they start with the term grant, it doesn’t sound quite as bad as a handout. Obfuscation is a specialty of Maryland’s liberal Democrats.


Now, they tell us that PlanMaryland is just an extension of Smart Growth and is merely a policy change that will entice new development into areas that already have infrastructure or to which infrastructure can be easily extended. Do we believe this? I don’t.


They also tell us that PlanMaryland will not – in any way – dictate, mandate or force local governments to change their land use policies and adhere to the will of the state government in making planning and zoning decisions. Do we believe this? I don’t.


Now, the one difference between PlanMaryland and the Smart Growth initiative, which became law under the Glendening Administration, is that PlanMaryland is an executive policy only. It does not involve legislation which would be debated and ultimately voted upon in Annapolis.


We should ask ourselves why is the governor avoiding taking this to the legislature. It certainly is not because he doesn’t think he would have the votes. We all know that those of us in the western, eastern and southern parts of the state are outnumbered and outvoted by the liberal Democrat jurisdictions around Maryland’s metropolitan areas, including Washington.


So, there must be another reason Gov. Martin O’Malley has chosen not to implement this policy through legislation. He simply is not interested in hearing our views, which would be expressed by our delegates and senators in Annapolis. We are a nuisance to him. And the fewer of us who live in these “rural” areas, the better for him.


Take a look at the legislation that he has proposed recently, and which will result in statewide mandates to local governments on planning and zoning issues.


Last year the governor offered a septic system bill, which would effectively stop all new housing to be served by well and septic development. Combine that with Smart Growth and the new PlanMaryland, which requires public infrastructure, it is clear what the impact would be on the more rural parts of the state, like Frederick County. We would have no development and growth whatsoever.


With public water and sewer unavailable to the rural and suburban areas, and with the new limits being imposed to protect the Chesapeake Bay, all new development would be driven into the metropolitan and urban areas of the state, and our children and grandchildren would be forced to live on top of each other. Cities and congested areas suit the liberals just fine. After all, cities tend to vote for liberal Democrats.


The governor stated at the MACO conference that a house on an individual septic system pollutes the Chesapeake Bay 10 times more than a house on public sewer. Of course, there is no real science that backs this up. But it is his justification to keep our children and grandchildren from building a home with a nice green yard near where their parents live and work. He wants us all to be like Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, in highly congested, tightly controlled areas, all the better to keep an eye on us.


Look at those jurisdictions. How does it work for them? Look at their school systems, their crime rate and the overall quality of life. Is it any wonder that in the last 20 years people have flocked to places like Frederick, Charles, Carroll, Harford counties and other areas outside of the inner core urban areas, but still within driving distance?


Governor O’Malley and his liberal Democrat cohorts in Annapolis want all that to end. Before long, if they have their way, if you want to build a new home, you will submit the request for a building permit to Annapolis for approval. You can bet if it is for a new single family home with a nice lot and with a pretty yard in Frederick County, it will not be approved.


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