Phase Two of the battle over statewide growth controls begins this summer when legislative committees, at the request of their presiding officers, begin a two-year study of land-use methods to safeguard the environment surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.
Let's hope the second phase goes more smoothly than the first. While the Governor's Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region -- better known as the 2020 commission -- made a strong case for reining-in rampant growth over the next 30 years, its recommendations proved too much for the General Assembly. Intense opposition from county planners and elected officials, plus the resistance of developers to anything smacking of controls, doomed the commission's Maryland Growth and Chesapeake Bay Protection Act in this year's legislature.
Still, the panel's findings are disturbing. Population in the Chesapeake watershed is expected to rise by 2.6 million, or 20 percent, by the year 2020, straining local resources. At the present rate of consumption, 625,000 acres will be developed in that period -- nearly two-thirds of all the acres consumed in Maryland in the state's entire history. The resulting congestion and increased pollution could turn this region's slogan into "the land of unpleasant living."