The Maryland Smart Growth Subcabinet opened the 2015 MACo December Winter Conference on December 9 with a listening session for county officials. Subcabinet members heard both compliments and concerns from county officials on various growth and environmental concerns.
The Subcabinet’s role is to advise the Governor on Smart Growth, oversee the State’s Priority Places Strategy, and support sustainable communities. The Subcabinet’s membership includes most of the cabinet secretaries as well as representatives from the Maryland Energy Administration and the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. Maryland Secretary of Planning David Craig chairs the Subcabinet.
Subcabinet members heard concerns from counties regarding: (1) challenges posed by the Department of Natural Resources purchasing land and removing it from county property tax rolls; (2) local land use issues raised by a Kent County wind turbine project; (3) sprinkler system mandates on rural homes on well water; (4) communication issues between local property owners and the Maryland Department of Transportation over the widening of Route 404 on the Eastern Shore; (5) issues created posed by septic tier map requirements; (6) dramatic increases in school construction projects; and (7) flexibility in the use of Rural Legacy funds. County officials also praised the state departments for improved communication and their willingness to collaborate with local government.
MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp stressed the need to review the Priority Funding Area law, especially as it applies to rural areas, and local input into the state’s forthcoming nutrient credit trading system and Aligning for Growth policy. Knapp also complimented the Subcabinet and departments for their outreach efforts. A representative from the Maryland Municipal expressed support for the restoration of local highway user revenue and Program Open Space funding.
The Subcabinet intends to meet regularly at future MACo Winter Conferences.