articles and editorials ran locally regarding the Maryland Department of
Planning's growth projections for the Eastern Shore. If this is NOT
what you want for your home please let the Secretary of the Dept. of Planning
know, and copy the County Commissioners and the newspapers. Sample
letter (please, use your own words) and addresses follow the articles.
Locals lament the loss of the old days
Eastern Shore residents yearn for days before development
By DONNA L. COLE For The Capital
The development and increasing numbers of people on the Eastern Shore is a Catch 22. To small business owners, more people generally means more business, but it also brings bigger competition, more traffic, and less, well, less of what the Eastern Shore used to be.
"It's appalling - the more people that move here, obviously it's more profitable to me, but I've stood here and literally watched an entire culture die right before my eyes," said Lang King, co-owner of Peace of Cake pastry shop in Stevensville, and a life-long resident of the Shore.
Libby Lynch who's lived in
Grasonville for 55 years also said she has watched the culture slip away.
The ongoing development of homes, stores, schools, medical centers and other facilities can't be missed along Route 50, Route 8, Route 18 and throughout much of Queen Anne's County.
"It just breaks my heart
to see an entire field, that I drive by everyday, torn up," said Mr. King.
"Even the Safeway. There was nothing wrong with the Safeway and now they're talking about a Giant," said Mr. King. "Why do we need a drug store on every corner?"
Still, he said the groceries
with the big bakeries aren't hurting his bottom line.
For others though, those
big stores are affecting business.
The store, which sits well off the beaten path, sells quite a few items other than soda, including crab traps, bait and gasoline. But even a high commodity item like gas doesn't help," Mr. Dutta said.
"We don't make money on the gas now," he said. "The volume is really hard."
For Ricky Green who was in the store purchasing some items and has spent his entire life on the Shore, all the development isn't so bad. "I think it's more convenient," said Mr. Green. "It doesn't bother me. It helps somebody and I'm glad to see it because it's more jobs and decent living."
Mr. Green isn't the only one who likes it.
"It's more convenient than it was when I first moved over here from San Francisco," said Gail Rankin, a resident of Queenstown for 34 years. "We have a new Safeway store - I used to have to go to Easton to shop for groceries."
As for all those cars that now make up rush-hour traffic jam on the Kent Narrows bridge where there never was one before, they need to be serviced. But even a slight increase in business has come at a cost to Mark Thomas, owner of Willard's Service Center in Grasonville.
"It's like, I used to be able to back out of here with no problem, now I have to sit here for three or four minutes," said Mr. Thomas as he glanced out on what was at that moment, a sleepy two-lane road.
Mr. Thomas is clearly upset when it comes to the development. "They're putting stuff in I sure don't think we need any more of," he said. "There's so many pharmacies and ... I didn't think we needed any more banks."
Christy Marciniak, the owner of the Cutting Room, a small hair studio in Chester, said it seemed that for years the Eastern Shore was something not many noticed as they zipped through on the way to the beach.
"It's like all of a sudden the Eastern Shore is recognized," she said. "For years and years nobody knew anything about it and for the past four or five years, we've had this great, big migration from the western shore."
Though Ms. Marciniak admits,
"My business has grown a lot," she's concerned about too much growth.
In Stevensville, more bulldozers
are clearing ground on property adjacent to the historic Kent Manor Inn.
"It's just crazy," said Mr.
Thomas. "It's going out of control."
Shore schools having some growing pains
By DONNA L. COLE June 16, 2007, The Capital
In Queen Anne's County, as in many other areas with dwindling green space, increased traffic, and a host of other concerns, the problem of near or over capacity schools could be the straw that breaks the burgeoning community's backs. "It's bad," said Grasonville resident Dawn Anthony, who has three children in public schools. "It's so bad they're making my kids, who have gone all their life to Centreville schools, to go to Kent Island High School next year."
Ms. Anthony said it's a move that's affecting her daughter, as well. "I can guarantee you, with my 12-year-old daughter, twice a week I hear about it," said Ms. Anthony. "She's so upset about it - she doesn't want to leave her friends, she doesn't want to leave her teachers."
While Ms. Anthony deals with the issue daily with her children, there is a shift occurring on the county level that could limit development until school capacity issues are handled. Officials have lowered the capacity threshold that would trigger a moratorium of sorts on housing developments in certain areas.
A similar move in Anne Arundel County has led to a boom of housing available only to those ages 55 years and older. But for the time being, Valerie Wilder, also of Grasonville, is concerned, with three children attending Grasonville Elementary.
"I think that our elementary school is teetering on overpopulation," said Ms. Wilder. "Our concern is the high school. Already the high school can't handle all the development that's coming in."
It's a concern Ms. Wilder has experienced first hand. "I don't' want my kids going to a high school with 12 million kids, because that always breeds other problems," she said. "I was a teacher in Anne Arundel County for 10 years, so I know good teaching can't accommodate or compensate for overcrowding and that's just a fact."
As for the redistricting into the Kent Island schools, which Ms. Anthony said she doesn't like, Ms. Wilder thinks it will be good.
However, those already in the Kent Island schools are concerned, as well.
"I think it was overcrowded by the time it was finished being built," said Lang King, who has a son attending Kent Island High School. "I think we're going to see the same thing happen with the elementary school."
Though the community is clearly worried, the board of education isn't, at least right now.
"So far, so good," said Fred McNeil, spokesperson for Queen Anne's County Public Schools. "The growth is coming, we just have to prepare for it."
As for overcrowding currently, it's a non-issue, Mr. McNeil said.
"There's not an overcrowding problem right now," he said. "There is a concern, when the development occurs, we have to plan for it."
As for the concerns of the community, Mr. McNeil said he believes it's justifiable.
"The parents have a right
to be concerned," he said. "We do the best we can and we do a good job."
"One hundred eighty students new this year in an 8,000 school district - that's sizable," Dr. Sadusky said. He said he's concerned, at least with one area of the county's school district. "I will tell you one of the major issues of Queen Anne's County is Southern Kent Island," he said. "That will have a tremendous impact on the school system if it's not done correctly." (We believe Dr. Sadusky was referring to the possible addition of close to 1000 homes on already subdivided lots on South Rt. 8 if/when sewer is installed to them.)
With the current and future growth in mind, Dr. Sadusky said he's devoted to at least, one sizable cause. "We are committed to keeping small class sizes," he said.
Other areas have experienced
similar growth issues with new developments and aging schools.
The age-restricted housing typically means no new children will be added to the overloaded schools. And the specific housing allows developers to use vacant land instead of waiting, sometimes decades, until new schools are built.
And in Queen Anne's County a similar story is unfolding. In March, the adequate public facilities ordinance was changed, making it harder for developers to build in an area where schools are nearing or are already over capacity.
In the past, the ordinance allowed schools to reach 120 percent of capacity, before stopping new housing developments. "The new board reduced the threshold of when we would stop a project to 100 percent," said Steve Cohoon, acting director of the Queen's Anne's County Department of Planning and Zoning. "At 100 percent, that quick reduction has stopped projects."
That being said, Mr. Cohoon doesn't expect the developers to pack up and go home. "I expect we will see more age-restricted communities," he said. Mr. Cohoon said while some housing developments currently under construction were approved under the old 120 percent rule, things are slowing down, partly of a slowing housing market in tandem with the new standard.
"All the schools were under 120 percent, reducing it down to 100 percent of state-rated capacity has stopped or dramatically slowed subdivision applications from coming in," Mr. Cohoon said.
Even so, there's still a
limited amount of classrooms.
"There's not a school district
in the world that will tell you they don't want more schools," Mr. McNeil
EDITORIAL FROM FRIDAY 6/8/07 CAPITAL:
By THE CAPITAL EDITORIAL BOARD
Even those who don't live
on the Eastern Shore can hardly welcome projections that it is bound to
become more like the congested Western Shore.
The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy this week released a report estimating that in less than 25 years the Shore could get more than 70,000 more homes, eating up many thousands of acres of open space and adding 160,000 new residents.
Growth cannot be halted and the Eastern Shore has already become an attractive alternative for residents fed up with runaway development in high-growth counties like Anne Arundel. But the Shore's rural atmosphere and casual style could evaporate if government isn't prepared to manage growth. The conservancy is trying to get county governments to enact stricter policies to slow development.
We couldn't agree more. If they don't do anything more, the region's county commissioners can see their future by looking west, across the Chesapeake Bay. Anne Arundel County was late in developing adequate zoning laws - too late, some feel. County officials were lured into approving projects for the tax revenue they could bring, which could be used for schools and parks. The same temptation is present on the Eastern Shore.
That much was evident in Queen Anne's County, where the former commissioners approved a massive 1,350-unit development on Kent Island. Residents, and ultimately state officials, recognized the damage the project could cause to the environment and have so far been able to stop it. But farmland on the island and elsewhere is ripe for picking by eager developers.
In 2002, four Eastern Shore counties, including Queen Anne's, agreed to a vision statement: they would protect half of the land outside designated growth areas from development, and see that half of all development went into those designated growth areas. They also agreed to take part in regional transportation efforts.
All of this sounds nice, but the counties aren't meeting the land preservation goal. The conservancy's report should get officials' minds back on the task.
While the primary obligation to protect residents from uncontrolled growth falls on county commissioners, the state also needs to be more aggressive. Environmental agencies, for instance, need to be more vigilant in rejecting permits that could harm waterways.
And can we count on the state Department of Transportation to anticipate how growth might impact state roads? The conservancy opposes another bay bridge, and state agencies and legislators are also ignoring the obvious implication of projections of 12-mile backups at the existing spans. But if growth controls continue to lag, how does anyone expect 160,000 new residents - or even 80,000 new residents - to even get to the Eastern Shore?
Queen Anne's County is making good progress in tightening its zoning, but its next step is to preserve what's left. We hope that becomes the mantra for all Eastern Shore counties.
Published June 08, 2007,
The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
ESLC fears ‘fundamental
QUEENSTOWN — Residential growth on the Eastern Shore needs to be slowed and concentrated in designated growth areas to preserve the region’s agricultural and maritime culture and economy.
That was one of the points made by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy in its report called “The State of Growth on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Meeting Its Challenges Through Eastern Shore 2010.” Rob Etgen, ESLC executive director, and writer Tom Horton, a columnist for The (Baltimore) Sun talked about the report Wednesday at ESLC headquarters.
“I feel like now we’re in a period of fundamental change, not just change,” said Horton.
There has always been change on the Eastern Shore, said Horton. Sometimes wheat was the dominant crop, other times orchards and truck farms were dominant. Oysters were once the main seafood harvested, and now crabs are. But Horton said, for hundreds of years, from the time only Native Americans lived on the Eastern Shore until the last few decades, the region had a resource-based culture and economy that depended on clean water, open productive land, and fertile soil.
Without a plan to slow the rate of growth and direct residential development to designated growth areas, the ESLC fears the Shore could lose its rural areas and become much more suburbanized.
Etgen said there’s a “strong consensus” among Eastern Shore residents they want the region to retain a culture and economy that’s based on farming, fishing, and forestry. He said people don’t want the Shore to be New Jersey or Anne Arundel County.
The report said the Eastern Shore grew by about 300 people a year between 1900 and 1952, when the first Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened. The report said currently about 300 new residents move to the Shore ever 2r weeks. The report said it took 300 years — from the time John Smith mapped the Chesapeake Bay in 1607, to 1907 — to develop 60,000 acres on the Eastern Shore, while another 175,000 acres were developed between 1907 and 2007. Another 160,000 acres could be developed between 2007 and 2030.
“This report really drives home the runaway development that is facing us over the next 25 years, that could irreversibly alter the Eastern Shore landscape that we know and love,” Etgen said in a news release. “Managing the growth that is headed our way is the only way to make sure that the Eastern Shore remains a unique and special place.”
Richard Altman, of Queenstown, executive director of Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, said advocates of managed growth should refute Eastern Shore growth projections from the Maryland Department of Planning. He said the Eastern Shore is an asset to all of Maryland and the entire United States, and the region is “compromised” by accepting the MDP’s growth projections.
The report said the MDP estimates the Eastern Shore will have 160,000 more residents in the next 25 years; 70,000 homes will be built; and 160,000 acres will be developed.
Talbot County resident Barbara Padden said the ESLC should have a statement saying it doesn’t accept the MDP projections. Etgen said if people are “quiet about these MDP projections,” they’re letting the idea “flourish” that the population increase will occur as predicted.
“If you could grow yourself out of (budget) deficits, some of these western shore counties would pay everyone $1,000 a year,” Horton said.
Eastern Shore 2010 is a regional land use agreement signed by six counties (Cecil, Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Dorchester) in 2002 that had four goals. Etgen said goal no. 1, which called for the counties to preserve 50 percent of their rural lands by 2010, won’t be met. The amount of rural lands preserved will be closer to 30 percent, he said. Etgen said goal no. 2, which calls for the counties to support agricultural, fisheries and forestry in their economic plans, has been met.
Goal no. 3, having the counties concentrate 50 percent of new growth in growth areas, has been a success, said Etgen. He said goal no. 4, having a regional transportation plan, has been a failure.
Because of continuing growth pressure, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy put in revised goals for Eastern Shore 2010. Four counties (Kent, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, and Cecil) have signed the revised agreement. Etgen reviewed the revised goals:
• Each county should allocate 1.5 percent of its operating budge for land preservation. Caroline County currently meets this goal.
• Implement incentives in each county’s economic development plan to support the resource-based industries of farming, fishing, and forestry.
• Each county should put at least 80 percent of its new growth in designated growth areas; put an annual cap on the number of new homes built; and have a work force housing component to their land use plans.
• The counties, as a region, should develop options and alternatives to an auto-oriented third Bay bridge.
“We need to show we can handle regional transportation needs, ... without building more auto infrastructure,” said Etgen.
Horton said the debate over building a third Bay bridge might provide a “rallying point” for advocates of slower growth on the Eastern Shore. He said no one on the Eastern Shore or western shore wants the bridge built near their homes, but people will “choke” on increasing traffic congestion if a third bridge isn’t built. That will force people to come up with an alternative solution.
Conservation Group Warns
Growth Will Transform Eastern Shore
The Eastern Shore will be transformed by unprecedented growth in the next two decades, with more than 70,000 new homes and 150,000 new residents coming to the largely rural region, a conservation group warned Wednesday.
Development over the next 23 years will roughly equal development on the Shore in the past four centuries, according to a report from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, titled "The State of the Shore on Growth."
"This report really drives home the runaway development that is facing us over the next 25 years, that could irreversibly alter the Eastern Shore landscape that we know and love," said Rob Etgen, the group's executive director. "Managing the growth that is headed our way is the only way to make sure that the Eastern Shore remains a unique and special place.
The report projects that 215,000 acres will be developed between 2007 and 2030. From 1607 to 2007, an estimated 235,000 acres were developed. That means by 2030, 450,000 total acres will be developed -- about one of every five acres on the Shore.
The report also notes that the population increase will have a huge environmental impact.
"Across the board, people's demands on the environment continue growing faster than population," the report says.
The group is trying to spur leaders of six upper Shore counties -- Caroline, Kent, Cecil, Queen Anne's, Dorchester, and Talbot -- to enact stricter growth policies. Those counties signed an agreement in 2002 that called for protecting 50 percent of land outside designated growth areas from development and for driving 50 percent of all development into such growth areas.
Success in meeting those goals has been mixed, the report says. All counties have guided more than half of new growth into the areas set aside for it, but none has managed to preserve 50 percent of the open space that hasn't been targeted for development.
Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne's counties have so far approved a stricter agreement that calls for putting at least 80 percent of development in designated growth areas and establishing annual caps on growth.
Those benchmarks are "very achievable," said Queen Anne's County Commissioner Gene Ransom III.
"The Eastern Shore is a rural area. It should stay rural," Ransom said. "I don't want it to look like 'Anyplace USA."'
© 2007 The Associated Press
Eastern Shore will see
Maryland's Eastern Shore will be unrecognizable in about 20 years as unprecedented growth crams almost four centuries of development into just over two decades, according to a report released today. More than 70,000 homes projected for that area will eat up more than 200,000 acres of open space by 2030, according to "The State of the Shore on Growth," a report released this morning by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. It's a private nonprofit group focused on preserving the environment on the Shore.
"This report really drives
home the runaway development that is facing us over the next 25 years,
that could irreversibly alter the Eastern Shore landscape that we know
and love," Rob Etgen, the conservancy's executive director, said in a release.
"Managing the growth that is headed our way is the only way to make sure
that the Eastern Shore remains a unique and special place."
The rate of developing open space from 2007 to 2030 will almost equal all the growth over the past 400 years, the report says. From 1607 to 2007, an estimated 235,000 acres were developed, and projections show that the next 23 years will use up 215,000 acres.
"This unparalleled population increase understates the likely impact on our rural economies, scenic waterways and quality of life," the report says. "Across the board, people's demands on the environment continue growing faster than population."
The report is part of the
conservancy's effort to get the six "upper shore" counties to enact stricter
policies to slow down development and strengthen a previous regional agreement.
Success with those benchmarks
has been mixed so far, according to the report.
Queen Anne's County has retained the most land outside growth areas, at 37 percent, and Cecil County has had the least success, coming in at only 20 percent.
A new, stricter agreement
has been approved so far by Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne's counties.
The updated goals have the
unanimous support of the Queen Anne's County Commissioners, said
Growth is being taken very
seriously and the new benchmarks are "very achievable," he said.
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