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Growth Back to the Future
January 17, 2007
by Jack Lynch
With Maryland facing a population growth of 1.2 Million more citizens as the Federal Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) process continues, the solutions to growth against a background of past sprawl, and citizens already burdened by growth and resistant to its further impacts on open space, roads and services, are not yet envisioned, but perhaps are to be contemplated in a return to responses of the past.
Communities like Baltimore, and other urbanized areas, have absorbed waves of massive immigration, and waves of war workers, and had grown by in-fill development. Our modern forty year love affair with land sprawl was not the norm of our long agricultural heritage.
While the City of Baltimore decreased in population from 1950 (950,000 persons) to 2000 (651,000 persons) approximately, the Baltimore demographic region has again doubled in population over 1950 Baltimore, and absorbed four times as much land as it ever used before to host our communities. Baltimore should again be home to a Million citizens.
The answer, to end sprawl and again grow in population is fairly obvious, we must restrain our growth towards the central urban areas. To focus a vision of growth inside the city is to build a vision of growth that has represents regional progress, for it best accommodates improvements in mass transit and taking advantage of existing infrastructure.
In addition, we should look back upon the vision of greenbelt areas around our dense population areas as a buffer and retention of natural spaces, and natural forested buffers along first magnitude waterways and rivers.
Planning should also designate protective areas for agriculture. There is no substitute for the health and security of local food sources and marketing. There are few values greater than keeping citizens engaged in natural resource activities, on farm, on the water, or managing forestlands.
Frederick has the potential to lead the state in recognizing these values and building upon our existing potentials by following a new pattern of growth and development. Local county leaders recognize the values inherent in planning for better growth and we stand on the verge of building a better future.
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