Strong Reactions Emerging To PlanMaryland (Part 1 of 2)

PlanMaryland is the State’s first attempt at a Statewide land use plan.  While MACo is not opposed to the basic concept of a State plan, MACo has raised many policy and process concerns with the released draft.  Some counties have had strong reactions.  A June 9 Cecil Whig article highlights the concerns of Cecil County Commissioners and their planning staff.  They expressed concerns over both the lack of a public approval process (the Plan will be submitted for approval to the Governor in October) and alleged that the Plan attempts to micromanage growth.

Cecil County planning staff told county commissioners Tuesday the state’s newest growth plan – PlanMaryland – will conceivably halt growth in the growth corridor and make the comprehensive plan goals unreachable.  …

County Commissioner Tari Moore, who is a member of the Maryland Association of Counties, says that group has been sounding the alarm for months about this program.  …

“This signals a major shift from local control to state control of our planning,” said Commissioner Robert Hodge.

Commissioner Diana Broomell called the plan “unrealistic.”

Maryland Secretary of Planning Rich Hall responded to the County’s comments in a June 20  letter to the  Cecil Whig.  He defended the basic purpose of the Plan, argued that the Plan had a robust public participation process, and took issue with some of the strongest language used by Cecil County planning staff against the Plan.

PlanMaryland is a policy plan that will help pull together the many existing smart growth-related programs and policies at the state level into a coordinated strategy, and relate them to local government plans. In some cases it may point to new efforts, but the focus is making better use of existing programs.  …

We’re not looking to take over local control of planning and zoning. But there is a need for state agencies to better coordinate with themselves and local governments to further smart growth. Cecil County is projected to be one of the fastest growing areas of the state in the next 25 years. PlanMaryland seeks to better position the state to address growth issues with the county, municipalities and citizens.

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