The alleged “war” on rural Maryland being declared by some critics of the O’Malley administration is nothing but a ploy to pit Marylander against Marylander [“Republicans say O’Malley is ‘at war’ with rural Md.,” Metro, Oct. 31]. Environmental protection, agricultural preservation and economic development are not values to be pitted against one another.
Some of the most vociferous opponents of “Plan Maryland” voted for all of the planning legislation of recent years that set the foundation for the sustainable growth path we’re now working on. The “Planning Visions” that the General Assembly approved overwhelmingly in 2009 called for local governments to plan with “green” principles in mind, such as future growth in already developed areas and more compact community design. The General Assembly also required local governments to adhere to those goals in their zoning and long-range planning. Now some of the lawmakers who voted for those objectives not long ago are somehow against them.
Even during challenging times, the O’Malley-Brown administration has invested significantly more in rural Maryland than did the previous administration. That includes a record $9.9 billion in education and roughly two-thirds more spending for public school construction and community colleges in rural counties, greatly expanded health-care coverage for rural Marylanders and millions of dollars to help farmers plant a record number of cover crops. That’s no “war.”
Richard Eberhart Hall, Baltimore
The writer is Maryland’s secretary of planning.