Friday, August 24, 2012

Response to Cecil County Business PAC Letter

Recently, you may have received a letter from Cecil County Government informing you that Cecil County is in the process of developing a Tiers Map as required by Senate Bill 236.  We, as a Board of County Commissioners, agreed it was important to notify the landowners with 20 or more acres on the effect this legislation would have on their properties. It's come to my attention that you may have also received another letter from David Williams on behalf of the Cecil Business Leaders which grossly misrepresents the facts.

I am in opposition to Senate Bill 236 and any State legislation which usurps the authority of local planning. While I believe the State has overstepped their authority and this is just the beginning of the Plan Maryland doctrine, our Planning and Zoning department recommended to not ignore SB 236 because the State could later impose penalties for our refusal to cooperate.

A guidance document for implementing the Tiers was provided by the Maryland Department of Planning and stated that Conservation Areas, Priority Preservation Areas and contiguous blocks of forested or agricultural areas were required to be located in Tier 4. I have advocated a map which reflects the adopted 2010 Comprehensive Plan with more of the Tier 4 removed and placed into Tier 3. The map which Mr. Williams supports selectively removes portions of Tier 4 which benefits certain landholders over others. The Planning Commission at their August 20 meeting agreed with my proposal that we use a policy that is fairly and equitably applied in the Tier 4 area and tasked Planning and Zoning to come up with those policies.

I especially believe it is egregious that the Tier 4 area will be downzoned and had requested that the letter going to the landowners in the Tier 4 area include the sentence: “Because the Tier 4 designation changes the density in the NAR from 1-10 to 1-20, many landowners believe the resulting devaluation of properties is unfair and an abuse of power by the State of Maryland.” The other Commissioners did not want to include because the letter was coming from our Planning and Zoning Director and they didn’t feel it was appropriate.

Below are recorded audios from previous public meetings in which I shared my position on this issue: Comments start at 1:12:45. Comments start at 8:05. Comments start at 14:50.  Comments start at 33:25