Growth vs. sprawl

November 09, 2006|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Reporter

O'Malley will take over at a time when the state is poised for growth, with thousands of new jobs projected as a result of the military base realignment.

That will only heighten development pressures, raising communities' concerns about sprawl, increased traffic and crowded schools - forces O'Malley has said he wants to tame.

Toward that end, he has pledged to rekindle the governor's Office of Smart Growth, which began in the administration of Parris N. Glendening but downgraded by Ehrlich. O'Malley has said he intends to be more aggressive in controlling growth.

How O'Malley's focus on Smart Growth will affect development will depend largely on how the program is run and who runs it, an industry representative said yesterday.

"Under Governor Glendening, there was concern among the planning community that the [Smart Growth] office was intrusive, telling them how to do things and what to do," said John E. Kortecamp, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. "Recently the [state] Planning Department has taken a consultative approach, and made more progress in being a resource to the counties. That's been very well-received and very effective."

Kortecamp said he has been encouraged by O'Malley's recognition that job growth drives housing demand and that homes need to be made available close to job centers.

"He very much gets that," Kortecamp said.

On the commercial real estate side, some in the industry are feeling anxious about what new smart growth policies could mean, said Thomas C. Shaner, executive director of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties Maryland chapter.

"It could mean total control, that somebody else has decided they've made all the smart decisions," Shaner said. "The state needs continued strategic growth. When these types of strategies are developed, it is critical that all sectors of the real estate community be involved. A good leader brings about consensus from all elements. O'Malley has the potential to bring us good leadership."

Lorraine Mirabella

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.