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The blogger Aaron C. Davis at the Washington Post is surprisingly honest in his analysis of a new struggle between MD Governor Martin O’Malley and counties over an attempt to force a state-wide land use plan with Agenda 21 overtones.  Note who goes to defy elected officials and prior precedent first:  Hint:  It’s not Richard Rothschild!

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and county officials who oppose his plan to curb suburban sprawl fired opening shots Friday in a battle to set a statewide land-use plan that could dramatically affect whether local communities would be eligible to receive state funds for everything from school construction to new roads.

O’Malley is hoping to succeed with a smart-growth plan where Democratic governors before him have failed over two decades. The state’s large and powerful counties have repeatedly killed or weakened such efforts in the past to maintain local control over development decisions.

“Smart-growth” is a euphemism for Agenda 21 according to Henry Lamb and Tom DeWeese.  But note that the MD counties have been able to protect local control of land-use planning.  But now Governor O’Malley went to an old statute that gives him power to enact a state-wide plan:

The governor, however, is invoking a 37-year-old law granting the executive branch power to develop a plan without a new vote by the General Assembly. He said it’s the only way for Maryland, which is already the fifth most densely populated state in the country, to pass along a similarly beautiful landscape to future generations.

The 1974 state law apparently uses state taxpayers’ monies in an effort to induce the local governments to toe the state line on development:

The land-use plan, dubbed Plan Maryland, “is not a straight-jacket for counties,” O’Malley said. “This is not a wall that prohibits counties from making stupid land-use decisions. They’re still free to do that, but we’re not going to subsidize it any more.”

Accordingly to this article, state-wide central land use planning was defeated in 1992:

In the early 1990s, a commission appointed by then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D) recommend the state take back land-use control from the counties.

Local jurisdictions, bankers, farmers and developers opposed such a change, and in 1992 the General Assembly passed the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act, which left the bulk of land-use decisions in the hands of local government.

But, thankfully there’s a new sheriff in town:  Commissioner Richard Rothschild of Carroll County, home of the beginning of the anrti-ICLEI and sustainability fight!  Rothschild said this:

“It has the effect of taking land use decisions out of the domains of elected officials who are accountable to the people and putting them in the hands of [state] agencies who are not accountable to the people,” said Richard Rothschild, a Carroll County commissioner who implored the governor to extend a scheduled comment period on the plan that ends next month to a year or more.

“The vernacular in the plan does not match the vernacular in the [governor’s] presentation. His presentation was ‘don’t worry be happy’ but if you read the plan it’s a trajectory toward state takeover that is clear and evident. It is not subtle,” Rothschild said.

Rothschild appears to have support from other rural county leaders, including one from Frederick County.  What the MD legislature should do is either repeal the 1974 law or defund its enforcement or use initiative power if available to stop the Plan Maryland.  But note that the local governments are now losing their power to make local decisions in the name of sustainability and “smart-growth”.  And we’re the wingnuts for alleging that Agenda 21 is creeping tyranny?  Richard Rothschild does not need my encouragement but he’s got it:  Keep fighting for liberty and sovereignty!  And to think I thought local government was boring…


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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