Head-in-the-sand delegation All elected officials must deal with the pressing issue of growth.

February 13, 1996

DESPITE THE nearly universal agreement that Carroll County needs to apply the brakes on future residential development, the county's delegation to the General Assembly does not feel obligated to assist the effort. The group's thoughtless decision to reject a number of growth-related measures severely undercuts the county government's efforts to better manage growth in the rural-suburban jurisdiction.

When it comes to making difficult decisions necessary to impose some order on Carroll's runaway development, the delegation willfully repudiated its responsibility.

What else could explain the county's senators and delegates rejecting a proposal that would allow the county planning commission to reject site plans when public infrastructure is inadequate? Why did they soundly reject the effort to establish a county transfer tax to raise money to preserve farmland and build public schools?

Their explanations make little sense.

Del. Nancy Stocksdale complained there was no guarantee the proceeds of the tax would always go toward agricultural preservation. Instead of attempting to have the proposal recrafted to achieve her desired end, she found it simpler to reject the entire concept.

Sen. Larry Haines pointed to the 1994 gubernatorial election results as the reason for rejecting the transfer tax. He said the voters were against any new taxes, yet he offers no alternative solution for getting the money to build schools or preserve agricultural land.

It is not acceptable for any of Carroll's elected officials to take such a head-in-the-sand posture in regard to controlling growth. Given the current structure of the county's local government, the delegation -- whether its members like it or not -- has to deal with the county's most pressing public policy questions. The issues of overcrowded schools, congested roads, disappearing farmland and destruction of the county's quality of life must be addressed. By stifling legitimate efforts to deal with these issues, the delegation is acting in an irresponsible fashion.

Refusing to support the commissioners' proposals is easy. County voters should ask what their representatives in Annapolis propose to enact in their place.

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