Officials push mixed agenda for growth Yates seeks changes, Dell supports part of governor's plan

Pleas today in Annapolis

Rural Legacy portion seen as boon to county open space program

February 26, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners are carrying a mixed message to Annapolis today about the governor's "smart growth" plan for revitalizing cities and stopping suburban sprawl.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell -- or one of his designates -- plans to tell the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that the Rural Legacy portion of the governor's growth proposal should be enacted no matter what happens to the other parts of the legislative package.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates, meanwhile, expects to let his counterparts in the Maryland Association of Counties know that the Carroll delegation will oppose everything else in the governor's plan unless it is amended to include all 10 provisions sought by the association.

The Rural Legacy program would use tax revenue assigned to the state's Program Open Space to keep 90,000 rural acres statewide free from development.

"Carroll has as good a chance as anybody on the Western Shore" of getting Program Open Space money if the Rural Legacy bill passes, William Powel, the county's Agricultural Preservation Program administrator told Dell and Yates yesterday in a briefing. Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown was ill and did not attend.

"The odds are very great of our being included in at least the second year," Powel said. Enactment would make the county's goal of keeping 100,000 rural acres out of development "more attainable," Powel said. "We could use this program as a significant boost."

But even if Carroll were not selected in the first or second year as one of the areas targeted for preservation money, the county would benefit from "trickle-down spending" from the state's regular agricultural land preservation program, Powel said.

But the rest of the smart growth proposals, which would restrict state aid to urban growth areas around the state, would have a less than positive effect for the county unless amended, county Planning Director Philip J. Rovang told the commissioners.

He is especially concerned, Rovang said, about the fact that "non-urban" areas such as Finksburg are outside the "priority funding areas" designated in the bill and would not be eligible for state funding.

Likewise, "non-urban employment areas" would be excluded from state funding under the bill. Carroll industry is often separated from towns and residential areas because of incompatible land uses, Rovang said.

State economic development assistance to those areas should be maintained so that Maryland can compete effectively for jobs, he said.

Dell proposed that Carroll reject the proposed smart growth legislation and ask for further study unless those changes and eight others proposed by the Maryland Association of Counties are adopted by the General Assembly.

The recommended changes also include:

Making an area eligible for state funds if that area is in the county's 10-year master water and sewer plan.

Limiting the role of the Maryland Office of Planning in certifying a county's eligibility for funding.

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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