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Tea Parties Richard Falknor on 03 Sep 2011 08:01 pm

Defanging ‘Plan Maryland’: Will the Tea Partiers Weigh In?

“The problem is that counties don’t want to be locked into the state’s plan for the future. State officials across the board maintain that nothing is going to be forced on the counties. This is only true in the most technical sense of the word. The fight over Plan Maryland is best described in hypothetical terms: Imagine a time in the future where a county has the opportunity to green light a housing project that would require school and road infrastructure that doesn’t conform to the Plan Maryland vision. The county would have the power to accept the project but the state would reserve the right to refuse to build the roads and schools that might be needed as a result of the county’s decision. This is where counties begin to get nervous.”  — Tony Russo in MarylandReporter.com


Plan Maryland is governor Martin O’Malley’s  initiative to control Maryland land use — and thus a variety of issues closely related to how and where we live and how we get around — through a  central and largely unaccountable administrative apparatus.

As Russo writes —

“Although he deflected the issue at first, when pressed, O’Malley said unequivocally that he would not endorse any statement in the plan that contains the phrase: ‘Thus far shall the state go and no farther.'”

In our view, opposing Plan Maryland is a freedom imperative however much the Annapolis Political Class may try to disguise the initiative as some kind of “good government” or “conservation” or  “planning improvement” measure.  “Nothing to see here folks, move right along.”

Some Legislative Fine Print: Sailing Beyond the Law’s Intent?

The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) has published on line a useful discussion entitled PlanMaryland: 1974 Land Use Legislation Fights Still Echo Today, which explains –

“Arguably, there are aspects of PlanMaryland that go beyond the statutory authority of the State Development Plan and PlanMaryland’s designated places could be seen as trying to reach the original intent of the areas of critical state concern in the 1974 [Land Use] Act.  Unlike Priority Funding Areas, which are subject to MDP comment, designated places will be approved by MDP or potentially some other body – there has been some speculative discussion of converting the Sustainable Growth Commission, which currently serves in an advisory capacity, into an entity with more authority akin to the 1974 proposed State Land Use Board.  Unlike the current areas of critical state control, designated places are not voluntary and will carry potentially significant consequences, some of which are not yet defined.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

We urge readers to take in the entire MACo post fully to understand what the stakes are and have been since 1974.

Voting for Legislative Moving Parts that Enable Intrusive Planning

Grass-roots conservatives should be educating General Assembly conservatives about the perils of approving seemingly harmless measures that become essential moving parts to schemes directing how Marylanders across the state  may live.

Readers will want to know who voted in 2010 for “Smart, Green, and Growing – Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission” in the House of Delegates here and the State Senate here.

“Growth Print”

Here is the state on Growth Print:

“Maryland created a framework more than a decade ago to steer development toward Priority Funding Areas (PFA) to try to ensure that new construction occurred in areas where there was existing or planned services and infrastructure. The purpose of GrowthPrint is to highlight areas within Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) that are currently or can be in the future targeted for infill, revitalization and redevelopment.”

MACo also posts an essential . . . Look At PlanMaryland: What is GrowthPrint? explaining —

“. . . the development and implementation of GrowthPrint is both a component within, and an outcome of, the continuing PlanMaryland process. This process has not arisen from a specific statutory mandate — there was no bill in the General Assembly to debate the merits of this approach — rather, the effort has largely been administrative, following the general charge in Maryland law enabling a state growth plan.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

More Questionable Legislative Moving Parts

This MACo post points to another eye-opener from the draft plan —

“Areas approved as a “Sustainable Community” in accordance with the designation criteria provided in the Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 legislation will receive State/Local GrowthPrint Area designation.”

Readers will want to pay close attention to the transportation powers enumerated in part of the Smart, Green, and Growing – The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010

“The bill contains intent language requiring MDOT to (1) consider sustainable communities as it considers annual revisions to the Consolidated Transportation Program; and (2) consult twice annually with the Smart Growth Subcabinet on how to work cooperatively to make mutual investments toward creating and supporting sustainable communities across the State. Subject to limitations specified under current law, MDOT may exercise all powers reasonably necessary to achieve sustainable community goals including the authority to: (1) adopt regulations to implement sustainable community objectives; (2) apply for and receive grants, gifts, payments, loans, advances, appropriations, property, and services from the federal and State government; and (3) enter into agreements and contract for (a) any studies, plans, demonstrations, or projects; (b) planning, engineering, and technical services; or (c) any purpose necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers under sustainable communities. “

On this questionable measure, no state senators here and only 27 members of the House of Delegates here (of whom two were Democrats) voted against final passage.

Where Do All These Schemes Come From?

Last May, we wrote about the real meaning of “sustainability” in our Hiding In Plain Sight: Collectivization by Planners, Schools.

We cited the redoubtable Jim Simpson in his “Globalist Totalitarian Dictatorship Invading a Town near You – With Your Permission” (Campaign for Liberty) who declared —

“The Maryland State government is virtually bursting with “Sustainability” initiatives like Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green and Growing. The state Department of Natural Resources hosts a Sustainability Network page, where you can link to organizations promoting sustainability in every county in the state. The Maryland state government created a new “Sustainable Growth Commission” in 2010. The year before, it passed the “Smart and Sustainable Growth Act of 2009,” which requires county planning officials to take a special course. You can see the study guide here . The guide is a road map to the ‘sustainable’ future, which will force us all into cities, crowd us close to public transportation, bike paths and into “walkable neighborhoods”: ‘…encouraging shorter drive times, locating housing closer to work, minimizing shopping trips, and giving our kids real options to walk and ride bikes to school, parks and playgrounds…’ while reducing our ‘carbon footprint.'”

Counterattack

Now Carroll County commissioners are pushing back. Christian Alexandersen (Carroll County Times) reports last Wednesday in hisCounty commissioners draft letter to state over concerns with PlanMaryland” that —

“All five commissioners contributed to the development of the draft letter. The draft letter addresses a number of concerns that that board has following the PlanMaryland open forum Monday at Carroll Community College in Westminster. The concepts that the commissioners are concerned about is that PlanMaryland tries to take over local planning authority; uses incorrect scientific assumptions regarding climate change; includes flawed growth philosophies and does not include property rights protections.”

Some Frederick County commissioners are joining the push-back. Writes Bethany Rodgers (Frederick News-Post) last Tuesday in her Commissioners critique state smart-growth plan at meeting  —

Frederick County commissioners called the Maryland governor’s drafted land-use plan a possible ‘usurpation’ of local authority and a ‘recipe to block job growth’ in comments submitted Monday evening to state officials. Board members traveled to Carroll County for the public meeting with Maryland Planning Secretary Richard Hall to voice concerns about the document, called PlanMaryland. Without language reinforcing local control over growth, commissioners stated, the plan could snatch decision-making power away from county officials. And the plan’s emphasis on protecting the environment overwhelms other interests, such as job creation and improving transportation, they added. ‘Frederick County deserves the right to continue to control our own destiny,’ Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young said at the meeting, reading from a six-page statement board members addressed to Hall.”

Carroll County commissioner Richard Rothschild has become a national figure in the fight against what Donna Holt (Campaign for Liberty) calls “THE PATH TO AGENDA 21 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” —

“WHAT IS SUSTAINBLE DEVELOPMENT?
Sustainable Development is the 1992 action plan set forth by the United Nations in 40 chapters of a socialist political agenda called Agenda 21 to control every aspect of life. Some of the more important goals are: Change Consumption Patterns; Promote Sustainable Human Settlements; Plan & Manage All Land Resources, Ecosystems, Deserts, Forests, Mountains, Oceans, Fresh Water; Agriculture; Rural Development; Biotechnology; Ensuring Equity; an increased role for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs); and define the role of Business and Financial Resources. All this was to be accomplished on a global, national, and local scale.
THE 5 PATHS TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

WILDLANDS * SMART GROWTH * STAKEHOLDER COUNCILS AND UNELECTED GOVERNING BOARDS (Bureaucracies) *  PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS * EDUCATION   The first two paths to ‘sustainable development’ calls for strict land use policies designed to tell humans where and how they will live.”

Rothschild told Blue Ridge Forum yesterday that he is urging a “summit conference” in mid-October with top-flight scientific, economic, and social experts to evaluate Plan Maryland. Presumably this gathering will move to recommend sensible free-market alternatives.

Let’s not, however, deceive ourselves about the difficulty of defanging Plan Maryland.

Plan Maryland allows the kind of social control in Maryland the Left could only dream about until recently.

In Maryland, there is little traditional media support for individual property rights.  Green Marxism will reign in the Maryland classroom, and  Green Statism in too many of the national boardrooms.

To turn back Plan Maryland and discredit the collectivist assumptions behind it means opposing many in the professional planning fraternity — from the municipal to the state level — as well as the national associations supporting these unelected decision-makers.

It means pushing against all manner of “environmental” organizations that are often aided by taxpayer dollars.

And of course defeating Plan Maryland means taking on the O’Malley regime on a signature initiative.

The General Assembly votes we have cited and more should convince the hardiest Republican stalwart that the GOP caucuses in the General Assembly are not of one vigorous mind, to put it charitably, opposing “sustainable development.” The House of Delegates does have a core of clear-sighted GOP members on this topic, but apparently not enough to move their entire caucus to pay attention.

This is not to say that the fight against Plan Maryland is not worth the candle. It is simply to say Tea Partiers and the conservative grass-roots must weigh in now — particularly on the local level where they have their greatest strength — if we are to defeat Plan Maryland and similar schemes.

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