- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On the front page of your paper Friday was a story about a Maryland environmental group’s negative opinion of the Charles County Planning Commission’s recommended tier map [“Tier law map earns county ‘rogue’ label,” Maryland Independent, Dec. 7].
Tier maps, drafted and approved by county governments, are now required by state law and deal with growth in rural areas on septic systems.
Missing from the story is much of the data explaining how the map was created and why the planning commission voted to recommend it to the Charles County commissioners.
Also missing is any mention of the legal opinion stating that the planning commission’s recommended map complies with state law and was submitted as testimony in the public hearing held by the planning commission.
In the story, the environmental group stated, “Charles County is heading towards pavement not preservation.” They conveniently left out the fact that 105,076 acres, more than half of the land in the rural area of Charles County, has already been conserved or is zoned for conservation. And it also fails to mention that much of the remaining land in the rural areas will be conserved in the future.
The county’s own data show that from 2002 to 2007, a period of rapid housing development, for every one acre of land developed in the rural areas of the county, two acres were conserved using existing conservation programs.
There is every reason to believe these programs will continue to conserve thousands of acres of private property without confiscating its value.
Property owners deserve fair compensation for conserving their property. The planning commission correctly considered these facts when making its decision.
Also quoted is the planning commission “adopted a tier map drafted by a developer group that supports sprawl development.”
First, that statement fails miserably to describe the membership of the Balanced Growth Initiative.
While we are proud to have business leaders in our community as members, the majority of our members are family farmers, employees of companies relying on construction and minority property owners whose families have owned rural property for multiple generations. These hard-working members of our community are scared to death that they will lose their businesses, farms and jobs, and be unable to care for their families.
The planning commission again correctly considered these facts when making its decision.
Secondly, BGI was organized to protect property owners from unfair treatment, not to support sprawl development.
While the environmental community is quick to point out that downzoning and destruction of property value is not unconstitutional, there is not an ounce of compassion for the impact this will have on the economic survival of thousands of families, landowners, farmers, businesses and their employees. The claim that these environmental laws preserve farming simply is not true.
Just ask the farmers. They do not believe they will be able to economically continue farming if the value of their land is taken from them.
And ask the business leaders how many employees they will need if there is no construction of homes.
And please ask the families and employees of these companies how easy they think it will be to get another good-paying job if they lose the one they have.
Again, the planning commission correctly considered these facts when making its decision.
There are many considerations that our county officials face in implementing this law. Legality is certainly one of them, but so is fairness, compassion and jobs.
The tier map recommended by the planning commission meets these goals.
It is lawful, it is fair, it protects jobs, and it shows compassion by reducing the impact it has on thousands of Charles County’s citizens. And there will be thousands of additional acres conserved in the future.
It violates no laws if, while conserving rural land, we also preserve the families who live there.
Murray Levy, La Plata