Workshops to address growth, environment

First of four to be held in Howard tomorrow

October 02, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Two state agencies will conduct four joint workshops on balancing growth and protecting the environment. The first is to be held tomorrow at Howard Community College. The sessions are being held by the Maryland environment and planning departments.

Stephen L. Pattison, assistant secretary for policy, community relations & outreach at the Department of the Environment, said numerous factors make improved planning and coordination among state agencies and local governments vital.

Perhaps most important is the projection that Maryland will have 1.1 million additional residents by 2030, which would increasing the demand for residential, commercial and retail development.

"From an environmental perspective," Pattison said, "that puts a strain or stress on water supply" and makes it more difficult to restore the Chesapeake Bay and ensure water quality.

Pattison noted a "variety of land use issues that arise that MDE may get put in the middle of and that may affect land use patterns."

It's not just the Department of the Environment that gets caught in the middle. The friction between developers and environmentalists is often felt by local planning boards and county councils.

Howard County officials wrestled recently with those opposing interests as they considered proposed expansions of the planned communities Turf Valley and Maple Lawn, Maryland, and whether to further restrict growth in the western part of the county.

The hope is that the workshops will assist in developing plans to achieve greater coordination between state and local agencies that deal with land use and environmental issues.

Pattison said the objective is to find ways to make better plans for water supply, waste and water quality.

The state has invited local elected and appointed officials, and representatives of builders and environmental organizations to the workshops.

Tomorrow's session will be held in the Kittleman Room of the Instructional Laboratory Building. Registration begins at 8 a.m. The workshop is expected to end about 4:30 p.m.

The other sessions are scheduled for Oct. 18 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills; Nov. 1 at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata; and Nov. 15 at Frederick Community College in Frederick.

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