A pause for PlanMaryland?
Under pressure from conservative lawmakers, state planners have agreed to delay their disputed blueprint for Maryland growth until after they get a little more feedback on it in Annapolis.
Planning Secretary Richard E. Hall confirmed a report in The Washington Times that he's agreed to hold off delivering PlanMaryland to Gov. Martin O'Malley until after he's met with the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Dec. 12.
Hall said his staff has been working for months to generate a third "full draft" of the statewide growth plan that incorporates or responds to the outpouring of comments and criticism of it from rural and suburban officials. That's still on track, Hall indicated in an email, but added that a brief postponement to brief lawmakers one more time would be "fine."
Administration officials have said the document is merely the long-delayed fulfillment of a 1974 law calling for a state growth plan, so does not require legislative approval. They've said it won't usurp local planning authority, just better coordinate state spending on roads and other infrastructure under Maryland's longstanding Smart Growth policies, which call for preserving open space by encouraging development in and around existing communities.
Local officials contend, though, that PlanMaryland may effectively take away their traditional control over development decisions if the state does deny funding or permits for projects that don't mesh with the plan. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin, a Republican representing the upper Eastern Shore who's accused O'Malley of waging "war" on rural Maryland, has said he'll introduce a bill that would require legislative approval of the plan - though administration officials have insisted they're not waiting for the General Assembly to act before putting the finishing touches on the plan.