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Jack Lynch, Editor
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January 16, 2008
by Jack Lynch
The good news is that the Frederick County Commissioners have moved to step back development long enough that they can get control over growth and the policies that regulate it – make no mistake, and let no naysayer lead you down a path of false enlightenment, this is a crucial decision and this is the fulfillment of the public interest.
This has been the contention of my writing here for several years – pulling back the growth machine and building a better county vision. We need to go forward with a new definition of what growth will do to transform this county and our communities.
We need to define an ultimate build out vision – much as was done by Calvert County through an EPA five star grant, defining the point at which the last house would be built in the county, then revising the plans to build those homes, but do so on less land and with less impacts on water quality.
I had stated over on Commissioner Hagen’s public forum (you should check it out and join up if you’ve missed it) that:
"This presents the opportunity to readdress the entire vision of growth comprehensively, to expand the traffic mitigation requirements to truly cover impacts, to bring the expense of emergency services funding to bear, to systematically redesignate land throughout the county to mirror the potential infrastructure and services available and align growth to fit, such as water supply.
The complaint that the length of time proposed is too great belies the reality of how much time is needed to get major code revisions completed – no one wants a rush job on zoning or comprehensive planning – its way too important, and look at how the City appears to be struggling right now over its ordinances.
Commissioners have seen the rewrite of zoning ordinances take two long processes already, much to public frustration, first by a consultants report, then the additional eighteen months taken by the hard work of an impressive group of citizens from all walks of community and business interests, the Citizens Zoning and Review Committee.
The ten year old Comprehensive Plan leaves hanging many of the progressive initiatives of its vision, and that coupled with the reevaluation of zoning county-wide will be an enormous task.
Commissioners have suggested drawing a line at those projects already in the ground, and that will be a matter of some debate tomorrow – but holding back the pressure of the land speculation and growth machine will be necessary, whatever the final point of drawing the line.
Business and economic progress will not be heavily impacted. It may in fact be good that too much is not built during this apparent downturn and realty market – empty buildings have a chilling psychological effect and a worse financial impact.
Commercial building will continue and perhaps jobs and residents will realign, given the forces of energy costs and commuting times. It would truly be good to live and work here, not that you’ll see the Chamber of Commerce lauding this plan, they are the builders club.
Which leads me to suggest two business potentials – why not a green business initiative? Call it a ‘green chamber’. An association to promote green and progressive business practices and alliances – perhaps they could launch an initiative to increase recycling by business.
And Frederick seems to be a prime place for an opportunity to launch a green products business – recycled products and energy efficient lighting, one step above the organic markets and trends in retail chains.
It is time Frederick to change things, to determine the ultimate build out of the county, to promote green initiatives, to better protect our natural resources through our zoning, codes and plans. This is the beginning of much good. It is the confirmation of the voters and the public faith in good government.
Two years from now we’ll be celebrating the outcomes and the future visions, and we’ll need to keep a steady hand on vetting the next county board candidates to insure that our hand remains firm on the ship of state, and that the county steers ahead as it is beginning to now. We cannot forget how hard it has been to turn it around.
Link to Frederick County's Growth Management Initiative website here.
Check Out a lively and progressive Frederick political blog : Air It Out with George. I've recently begun posting blogs there: