On the evening of July 22, 2020, the House of Representatives approved one of the most significant pieces of conservation legislation in a generation, the Great American Outdoors Act, with broad bipartisan support. Having passed the Senate in June, the legislation is on its way to the President’s desk, who specifically requested the bill for his signature.
Earlier this summer, the State of Maryland designated four new Sustainable Communities. This revitalization program provides local governments with a toolbox of state resources to support everything from bricks-and-mortar projects to tourism and now includes 121 designated communities across the state.
The Flag Barn in Calvert County.
Smart Growth Maryland: Calvert County Poll Shows Public Concern with Overdevelopment
An impressive 92% of residents identify Calvert County as an “excellent” or “good” place to live. When asked to name the most important long-term issue facing Calvert County, 33% of residents identify excessive growth or sprawl. Another 10% identify overdevelopment as the second most important issue. The resulting 43% is nearly twice as high as any other concern identified.
Calvert County is now considering growth issues as a new comprehensive plan for the county’s future is crafted. The Planning Commission’s review of a draft plan is on-going.
On the subject of priorities for the comprehensive plan, the poll reveals support for:
Protecting waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River and local creeks (88%)
Reducing congestion on the county’s roads and highways (83%)
Creating good jobs closer to where people live (82%)
Protecting most agricultural land from development (79%)
Encouraging neighborhoods where people can walk or bike from home to work, shopping, and activities (75%)
Redeveloping Prince Frederick to create a more walkable downtown (68%)
The poll also reveals opposition to two policies, one current policy concerning land preservation and another policy concerning residential growth that is proposed in the draft plan:
Accepting no new applications for land preservation and diverting funding for land preservation (55% oppose)
Ending restrictions on residential growth (60% oppose)
Calvert County established a household limit of 37,000 in 1999 based on the capacity of Route 4, drinking water availability and a desire to limit the need for new school construction. The draft comprehensive plan currently before the Planning Commission does not include the household limit or indicate how increased traffic congestion will be addressed.
Kimberly Golden Brandt, Director of Smart Growth Maryland, commented, “For decades, Calvert County has responsibly managed growth by setting appropriate limits on residential development, directing development to growth areas and conserving rural land. Today, residents enjoy a very high quality of life as a result. It’s critical that the new plan for the county’s future stays the course and builds on the county’s successes.”