County Executive Offers Thoughts on Cecil’s Proposed Land Use Tiers

In a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2017-04-28), Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy expresses frustration with the State’s required land use tiers but also describes how Cecil County is planning to move forward to implement a tier map based on the report of a Tier Map Advisory Committee created by the County Executive. Cecil has considered several previous proposed tier maps. From the op-ed:

In 2012 my predecessor, County Executive Tari Moore, adopted a growth tier map proposal as required by the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 (SB 236) passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley. This version was formally adopted by the County Council four years later, in December 2016. As the current county executive, elected in November of 2016, I was cognizant that my predecessor did not intend for the current map to be a permanent solution. Under the constraints of time, she knew this needed more study. As a result, I created a Tier Map Advisory Committee that was charged with preparing a new tier map to replace the one adopted in 2012. That committee recently concluded its duties and recommended that the 2012 map remain in full force and effect since it protects property rights and safeguards our comprehensive plan.

A dispassionate and objective reading of SB 236 leads to the inescapable conclusion that the purported goal of environmental protection underlying the legislation is to control growth. …

One cannot help feeling insulted when the state of Maryland passes legislation that abrogates local efforts and prerogatives regarding land use. After all, are we citizens of the county not intelligent enough to determine the best course of action to follow regarding future development?

The five members of the Tier Map Advisory Committee are individuals who brought broad experience with local land use to the table. The committee members were objective and did not taint the review process with personal agendas or vendettas. The Tier Map Advisory Committee provided a recommendation that reflects what is best for all of the landowners in the county, in harmony with the goals and objectives of our local comprehensive plan. …

In closing, my goal is to implement a common sense approach to growth that is aligned with state law. The essence of this land use philosophy is to provide a sustainable future for this county, with a viable agricultural community and undiminished land values. In our efforts to develop a successor tier map, and in our negotiations with the state, we must safeguard the protection of property rights and our comprehensive plan’s goals and objectives. Anything short of this would be a disservice to the hardworking citizens of this County.