Maryland's has a bad cramp, and PlanMaryland is the treatment

Letters

Letter to the Editor

November 28, 2011

Maryland's got a very painful leg cramp, and needs some medicine to fix it.

This sort of cramp is called "growth," the medication is called PlanMaryland, and we need to take it now.

Growth is something every state, municipality and community has to deal with.

It can be a painful throbbing like a leg cramp that wakes you in the middle of the night. You get up to walk it off, but sometimes it only gets worse.

Maryland has the good fortune — although some would call it a malady — of being a desirable place to live and locate a business.

Yes, people gripe about the cost of living and taxes, but the bottom line is that the state is fortunate that it's in a neighborhood that includes the federal government and a remarkably diverse landscape that is a playground for millions.

Many states envy the growth challenges our small state faces and wish their economy was as healthy as ours, even as the recession holds us back.

The growth which is already occurring in Maryland from the Base Realignment Commission's (BRAC) decision to move so many federal jobs here and the forecast for another million citizens to join us in the two decades is both an opportunity and a curse. Too little growth, and a state's economy sags. Too much in the wrong place at the wrong time overwhelms a state with expense and infrastructure nightmares.

We already have enough congestion and pollution here without worsening matters.

Responsible state leaders know they need a way to manage the larger landscape and look beyond the selfish politics of individual areas that are unwilling to cooperate with the rest of the state.

Carroll County is the perfect example of this selfishness.

Unable to see past their own self-induced political fog, Carroll's Commissioners are a main cause of the state's leg cramp. They don't see their county as part of the larger body. They want the benefits of the medicine, but without paying to buy it.

Unfortunately, Carroll's commissioners don't realize that Carroll County has more to gain by participating in regional policy making, than by sticking the governor and Democratic controlled General Assembly in the eye.

Carroll could play a vital role by protecting its rural nature and feeding its growth to its eight vibrant municipalities, where the infrastructure to support expansion already exists. Instead they parade around, with banners proclaiming property rights for all.

These commissioners are doing a disservice to the citizens of their county and the state in which Carroll is only one of 22 others.

Failing in their efforts at economic development, the commissioners, who are largely accountable to the development community for their political good fortunes, are turning to residential growth as the primary means of developing the county, without considering the infrastructure required to allow it.

Unlike former county leaders, who considered it their duty to meter and allow growth, only when contained and refined to meet the needs of the public, the current commissioners feel that any government regulation is a tyrannical impingement on their sovereignty.

Since PlanMaryland would cut the fat state purse strings that Carroll County's commissioners need to let growth run wild, it terrifies them.

The plan assures taxpayers in the rest of the state that their tax revenues won't be wasted on communities such as Carroll, whose commissioners consider the county an island with an inherent right to act irresponsibly.

The governor should ignore the selfish squawking of Carroll County's commissioners and enact PlanMaryland now.

Let's get on with it.

Neil Ridgely

Finksburg

The author is the former sustainability coordinator for Carroll County.

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