- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
1000 Friends of Maryland claims that Charles County manages its growth poorly and is heading toward “pavement” instead of “preservation” [“Tier law map earns county ‘rogue’ label,” Maryland Independent, Dec. 7].
What this really means is 1000 Friends is miffed at Charles County because its planning commission has adopted a tier map that fails to kowtow to the whims of the Maryland Department of Planning.
The fact is this “rogue” county’s current growth management policies have directed 79 percent of all development to the northern and western portions of Charles County, identified as the Development District, in keeping with smart growth principles 1000 Friends support. In other words, growth is going where it is intended to go while land outside the Development District is being preserved in great quantity.
According to the 2010 Charles County Planning Commission annual report, the county’s land use policies have protected from future development 124,298 acres of land through a variety of preservation and conservation measures. Does this look like “pavement” instead of “preservation” to you?
Smart growth means a lot of things to a lot of people. To 1000 Friends of Maryland, it means that all future development in Charles County should be squeezed into Waldorf while the Development District in the western portion of the county is eliminated.
This group and its supporters believe that Waldorf should be developed at much higher densities using mixed-use developments similar to those found in more urban areas like Baltimore, and Arlington, Clarendon and Tysons in Virginia.
While these communities are very desirable places to live for those who prefer a more urban lifestyle, the recent smart growth poll conducted by the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors clearly shows that our residents are not seeking that type of lifestyle. In fact, the respondents to the poll are mostly positive about the direction of Charles County and generally support pro-growth land use and development policies.
But, these same respondents overwhelmingly reject the notion that businesses and homes should be built closer together in development scenarios promoted by 1000 Friends of Maryland.
In fact, 99 percent of the respondents of our survey completely disagree with 1000 Friends of Maryland when it comes to higher-density, mixed-use development.
To the citizens of Charles County, smart growth means well-managed, suburban development patterns; a mix of transportation options that includes roads and mass transportation; and policies that protect private property rights. In fact, protecting private property owners’ rights is the second highest concern of the respondents of the poll.
The tier maps adopted by the Charles County Planning Commission address this concern while allowing for additional land preservation and areas for growth of adequate size such that the direction the citizens believe is correct will continue.
If that’s rogue, so be it.
Kevin Turner, Hughesville
The writer is the president of the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors.