Md. smart growth needs to be improved

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Nov. 2 Metro article "Study calls Md. smart growth a flop" leads to an inescapable conclusion: We in Maryland need to do more -- more to create walkable neighborhoods, more to give people transportation choices, more to save tax money and more to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

But the misleading headline did a disservice. What the study really found is that the policies I instituted as governor haven't been enough. It's true: Maryland's work is not done. Our laws and programs should be updated as we learn what works best. But the study doesn't call the Maryland programs a "flop."

Despite the need to improve and strengthen the policies, smart growth has done a great deal for Maryland. It placed the social services building right in downtown Easton and aided the University of Maryland's efforts to revitalize Hagerstown. It permanently preserved 400,000 acres. And it helped revitalize places such as Silver Spring, Hyattsville and Baltimore, adding thousands of homes to transit-accessible neighborhoods. Because the study looked only at single-family homes, it couldn't report any of these benefits.

Today, it's more important than ever that government policies don't promote sprawl but instead help communities meet the demand for more convenient, affordable neighborhoods. And improving the smart-growth program should be a key part of Maryland's plans.

Parris N. Glendening, Annapolis

The writer, the president of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, was governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003.

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It takes little intelligence to see how Montgomery County's foolish implementation of smart-growth policies continues to have detrimental effects across the area.


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