Smarter smart growth Mixed message: State planning opinion on reuse of Warfield complex in Sykesville is confusing.

March 30, 1998

SOME CONFUSION over Maryland's Smart Growth policy was inevitable, but a decision in Sykesville that might limit future reuse of land at Springfield Hospital Center seems an egregious case of bureaucratic blinder-vision.

The state planning office says the Warfield complex at Springfield, on the border of Carroll and Howard counties, is not a Smart Growth area.

It says this about land where, for years, the state operated a residential mental hospital.

It says this about land recently turned over by the state to the town of Sykesville specifically for the purpose of development.

Is the state now saying it did not have adequate water and sewer facilities to care for the patients at the hospital? Is it saying that locating a Maryland State Police crime lab next to a state police training center, also on former Springfield grounds, was not "smart?"

The issue arose when Sykesville proposed the Warfield location as a site for a crime lab, replacing the old facility in Pikesville in Baltimore County. The Maryland Office of Planning issued a letter stating that the idea would conflict with Smart Growth objectives.

Two of three members of the state Board of Public Works, which authorized the transfer of Warfield land to Sykesville, disagree with the planning office.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who received national recognition for his Smart Growth policy last year, is the third member of the board. He cited Warfield as a good example of his initiative last year.

But Ronald Young, deputy director of the planning office, said the governor's executive order rules out use of the Warfield land for the laboratory and favors rebuilding the facility in Pikesville (which would also satisfy Smart Growth).

This mixed message feeds confusion about Smart Growth, especially outside the Baltimore and Washington beltways. That's a shame because the program deserves broad support as a sensible approach to curbing sprawl.

Pub Date: 3/30/98

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