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November 29, 2011

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.

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 11:52 AM | | Comments (1)


Subsidizing sprawl all over Maryland's dwindling rural landscape at the expense of MD's existing communities as we do now is terrible public policy.

Hopefully, Plan Maryland can be adopted and can achieve its goals.

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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