MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp discussed proximity and equity requirements for local land acquisition goals before The Joint Subcommittee on Program Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation on November 19.
Knapp covered several topics in his remarks, including:
- MACo’s position on local land acquisition goals
- Project Open Space (POS) requirements
MACo Position on proximity and equity requirements
MACo recognizes the importance of ensuring that large population centers and disadvantaged populations have reasonable access to recreational lands and open space while concurrently acknowledging several practical challenges with implementing requirements. These challenges can impede a county from meeting their target goals:
- Land Availability: Suitable open space may not always be readily available near large population centers or disadvantaged communities, especially if that area has been targeted as a future growth area for a county or incorporated municipality.
- Land Cost: Land costs are typically much higher near growing population centers as opposed to more outlying regions. This can result in acquisitions taking up a disproportionate share of limited funding resources.
- Increased Acquisition Time: Land acquisition projects near established communities are often more complex and can take greater time to accomplish due to legal issues, community concerns, and increased costs.
- Lost Opportunities: The availability, cost, and time factors noted above can lead to a county having to spend more time and money to acquire a small property and potentially lose the ability to acquire a much larger property that might help with Project Open Space (POS) acreage requirements but does not meet the proximity or equity requirements.
- To view your County’s POS plan visit this webpage from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
- POS overview webpage.