By The Associated Press
7:20 AM EDT, October 28, 2011
State lawmakers and officials from rural Maryland Thursday urged opponents of the governor's statewide development plan to get organized on the local level and push back.
Opponents gathered in the concert wing of an Annapolis tavern to denounce PlanMaryland as a power grab against local authority that will hurt economic development in rural parts of the state.
They said Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration is moving too quickly to implement changes with huge implications across the state.
They also are speaking out against a separate proposal to double or triple the state's "flush tax" on sewer bills to fight pollution in Chesapeake Bay.
"The idea that Annapolis knows all and can tell us exactly how to do this, and how we should live, and where we should live, and how much carbon we can produce and how much nitrogen we can produce, every now and then you have got to say: 'Enough is enough,'" said state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, who has described the initiatives as "a war on rural Maryland."
O'Malley, a Democrat, has pointed out that lawmakers decided in 1974 that the state needs a comprehensive statewide development plan to fight sprawl. Yet, Maryland still doesn't have one, and O'Malley's still is being worked out.
Rich Josephson of the Maryland Department of Planning underscored that O'Malley's proposal doesn't force local governments to do anything they don't want, and there has been a total of 180 days for public comment.
Washington County Commissioner Jeffery A. Cline and County Administrator Gregory B. Murray attended the meeting Thursday, Murray said.
The commissioners also have been invited to participate in another meeting about the plan scheduled for next week. That meeting will be Monday in Carroll County to discuss that county's reaction to the plan and changes it wants, Murray said.
The Maryland Department of Planning is developing the initiative and is accepting public comments on the draft until Nov. 9. The final version will be submitted to O'Malley by mid-November. The department released the first draft on April 28.
Staff Writer Heather Keels contributed to this story.