MACo Associate Director Les Knapp testified in support of HB 474 with amendments before the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 17. The bill, sponsored by the Administration, would reconstitute the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland, which is set to sunset in December, 2010, into the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission. The Commission would run until the end of 2020.
Maryland Secretary of Planning Rich Hall and Growth Task Force Chair Jon Laria testified in support of the bill, arguing for the usefulness of a more permanent body than the Growth Task Force. Secretary Hall stated, “The Task Force plays a vital role as a proving ground for ideas.” Mr. Laria also noted that the creation of a long-term advisory body was a recommendation of the Task Force in its December 2008 report.
Mr. Knapp explained that while MACo had initial concerns regarding the membership and duties of the Growth Task Force, MACo believes the Task Force has fairly represented different stakeholder viewpoints and strived to build a consensus-based approach to land use issues. He did raise concerns, however, about the proposed membership and charges of the Commission.
He offered amendments that proposed the addition of three additional charges relating to State infrastructure and land preservation funding, review of State land use indicators, and the progress of State governmental units in meeting the 12 State planning visions. The amendments would also provide that the 5 regional members should be selected from lists submitted by the various regional planning bodies (tri-county councils and council of governments) rather than just being selected by the Governor. Mr. Knapp noted that the Maryland Municipal League also supported the amendments.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 1000 Friends of Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club also testified in support of the bill.