Szczybor: We Need To Better Manage Growth CAMPAIGN 1994

October 23, 1994|By RONALD M. SZCZYBOR

The candidates for Harford County executive on the Nov. 8 ballot, Democrat Eileen M. Rehrmann and Republican Ronald M. Szczybor, were asked to respond to the following questions: How should growth be managed by county government, with respect to public facilities, zoning and land use decisions, and incentives to developers/businesses? What type of development is needed and how should it be achieved? Does development growth cost more than it brings to the county, and how to reconcile any such disparity? Their responses appear below: There are several vital planning strategies which must be employed by a county executive to insure that the needs of our citizens are properly addressed. Managing development is first and foremost with regards to our citizens maintaining and/or improving their quality of life.

Harford County will continue to grow. Continued poor management of growth (i.e., rampant residential construction), will literally doom our citizens to substantially higher property taxes, reduce the quality of education for our children through larger class sizes and create even greater traffic congestion.

The first step I will execute as county executive will be to devise strategies to better implement Maryland's 1992 Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act. The act incorporates seven "visions" in the state's planning enabling laws. These seven "visions" directly address problems created by the pattern of wasteful, land-consuming development.

They assert the following: 1.) Development should be concentrated in suitable areas. 2.) Sensitive areas should be protected. 3.) In rural areas, growth is directed to existing population centers and resource areas are protected. 4.) Stewardship of Chesapeake Bay and the land is a universal ethic. 5.) Conservation of resources, includ- ing a reduction of resource consumption, is practiced. 6.) To assure the achievement of one through five above, economic growth is encouraged and regulatory mechanisms are streamlined. 7.) Funding mechanisms are addressed to achieve these visions.

The planning act in essence creates a statewide approach to land management and environmental protection. As county executive, I, along with all local government agencies, will work to insure these growth management strategies are better implemented.

Second, as county executive, I will commission a cost/benefit analysis to determine the costs or benefits borne by Harford County's citizens regarding different types of land development (ie., residential, commercial, industrial). Imagine a business owner trying to employ a strategic plan without first attempting to ascertain the full costs or benefits associated with that plan. Third, upon taking office as county executive, my staff will comprehensively review all preliminary residential plans which have been grandfathered under the adequate public facilities legislation. This recent legislation has granted special privileges to approximately 60 new developments and 10,000 new homes by exempting the builders and developers from tougher development laws.

Fourth, I will introduce legislation to send all future proposed debt, except debt dealing with school repair or construction, to referendum to be approved by the citizens of Harford County. During the last four years, our government has sold approximately $150 million in new debt for additional infrastructure creation. This rapid increase in infrastructure has sown the seeds for aggressive residential construction. Fifth, I will continue to refuse special interest political action committee money from homebuilders and developers.

Sixth, I will reform the "strategic planning committee." This committee, which has assisted in the formulating of the adequate public facilities legislation, is primarily a "Who's Who" of the development industry.

Finally, the master land use plan will be revised. A plan weighted too heavily toward residential development will be a disaster for the citizens of Harford County.

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