Carroll Commissioners: PlanMaryland Not a Good Fit for Carroll County (Update)

Commissioners Doug Howard and Richard Rothschild detailed their concerns about the PlanMaryland draft.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has made it clear from the beginning that it has major concerns about the PlanMaryland concept.

In response to decisions the commissioners have made, including their reaction to PlanMaryland, a group of Carroll County residents formed a citizens group called Citizens United for Carroll County (CUCC). The group has been vocal in suggesting that some ideas in PlanMaryland would actually be good for Maryland counties.

In a recent interview with Patch, commissioners Doug Howard and Richard Rothschild clarified their positions on PlanMaryland, explaining why they feel that the state's plan for sustainable growth is not a good fit for Carroll County.

The two agreed that one of their biggest concerns is the idea of handing over local planning issues to the state. They said they question a plan that suggests a one-size-fits-all solution for counties across the state.

"People don’t understand the policies that will be set based on this stuff aren't just hypothetical; it’s not an academic discussion," Rothschild said. "This relates to what we’re going to be able to do with our land, how we calculate water that is available, the septic bill will have an enormous impact, these are things that have real here-and-now implications and I think we would be remiss in our duty if we weren’t addressing those concerns."

Howard said there was a similar process with education and the American education system has suffered as a result.

"Part of the thing that alarms me the most is we’ve already seen this in education, and now environment is taking the same path," Howard said. "In the late 1950s education decisions were made in local communities, by mid 60s at the state level and then to the federal level. By the 70s and 80s, federal funding dictated education. Now almost none of the curriculum that our kids get is driven by the local school board, the local community.

Now, our school board does a fantastic job of working around supplementing and adding to, but they have so many constraints on them financially, operationally, fundamentally.  If you follow the path of what happened in education, the environmental movement is following in the same path about 20 years behind. We have seen that happen already and it’s following that path to a tee."

But the commissioners take issue with far more than the philosophical aspect of the plan. Howard said that Carroll County isn't broken and doesn't need to be fixed by the state.

Rothschild pointed out that Carroll County is "the only county in the state that had a significant tax decrease." He said, "We lowered it a little less than 2 percent, one of the only tax decreases in the state.

"So if our current development profile is so inefficient and so wasteful," Rothschild asked, "why is it that we’re the ones lowering taxes when everyone else is raising taxes?"

Howard added that at the same time Carroll County was decreasing taxes, the commissioners flat-funded education and provided more funding for public safety.

"It’s not like we just lowered taxes and let important critical government functions go by the wayside. The model works," Howard said. "In fact, if we continue this model and we have some of the business successes we expect to have, the model is going to work even more. Carroll County will still be this very nice, high quality of life, place to live."

Rothschild said the state needs to show Carroll County a place where the model it is proposing is working.

"We don’t understand who we’re supposed to be emulating," Rothschild said. "We would argue that Carroll would be an excellent role model. We don’t want to be fixed."

The commissioners said that their concerns are also tied up in the details and premise of the plan. They argue that data presented as the foundation for some of the recommended policies is inaccurate or skewed.

"The map the governor showed [at a June Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) conference] was based on growth a number of years ago, what it is now and what it is projected to be, but the projection assumes no additional land put into ag preservation in Carroll County even though we have not stopped or slowed ag preservation programs and we have money budgeted over the next five years for ag preservation," Howard said. 

"[PlanMaryland] simply ignores one of the major programs that has kept Carroll County rural for years, one of the major tools we use to keep it rural. They said that based on the fact that the land is there it will be developed and that’s just simply not true.

'This is why these kinds of plans are hard to put together at a state level. Those are the kinds of things that happen when the people closest to the project are left out," Howard said.

According to Rothschild, the fact that the state wants to move ahead so quickly with the PlanMaryland initiative is also a point of concern for the Carroll County commissioners as well as leaders of other counties.

"If they’re so sure that their facts, their premise, their science, their economics are correct, what are they afraid of?" Rothschild asked. "The answer is, they know that their science and economics are flawed. They know it will not withstand critical analysis and they’re afraid.

'They’re afraid because they’ve been ramming this stuff down the throats  of counties for years and we have said, 'Now wait, we’re not just going to sit by and let you do this. We’re going to challenge the science and the economics and we’re going to challenge that these policies should be based on a solid foundation,'" Rothschild said.

Rothschild said that if the counties had to vote on PlanMaryland right now, 75 percent of the counties would vote against it.

"The most fundamental problem with the plan can be described very succinctly: For 200 years land use decisions have belonged to locally elected officials that can be fired by voters if they don’t like the decisions," Rothschild said.

"PlanMaryland shifts that authority to unelected state bureaucrats that work for state agencies that cannot be fired. It’s a matter of principal, whether a Republican, Democrat or Independent, you should want that accountability here at the local level where you can fire the local officials if you don’t like what they did.

'Once the state takes it over, it takes accountability away from local officials, really shifts power away from the people and into the hands of government. That’s what our sister counties object to," Rothschild said.

Howard concluded, "Regardless of your political leanings, you want these debates to be held in community halls and libraries in your own community, not in some conference rooms in Annapolis."

Editor's note: The name of the citizen organization, Citizens United for Carroll County (CUCC) was originally posted as Citizens United Against Carroll County. This was corrected and Patch apologizes for the error.

withavengance October 18, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Citizens AGAINST Carroll County? lolol That's some kinda freudian slip right there! I'm looking forward to the debate to be held soon right here in Carroll County - the comissioner's summit will be a chance for all us regular citizens to hear the truth finally!!!!
David J Iacono October 18, 2011 at 02:57 PM
The tax decrease that the Commissioners talk about amounted to a wopping $24.00 for my family. I'd rather see that $24 go to giving Carroll teachers a pay raise. The $24 doesn't cover a night out at McDonalds. Keep the tax cut and give teachers that do such a great job in Carroll a livable wage. I'm glad the state and federal government have a say in local education issues. Without environment standards, these commissioners would turn carroll into a toxic wasteland. Given this school board's right-wing proclivities, we'd have evolution banned from the school system and replaced with creationism as real science. We'd have a Christian theocracy dominating the public school system and history books rewritten to suit their political ideology. Concerning PlanMaryland, the Commissioners don't have to comply but they won't get state funds to implement their development sprawl plan and sellout to their developer owners .
Bonnie Grady October 18, 2011 at 03:03 PM
News flash: you won't be invited. Film at 11.
Bonnie Grady October 18, 2011 at 03:44 PM
Thank you for the correction, Kym Byrnes. You and Westminster Patch are an growing asset to our community.
Kym Byrnes (Editor) October 18, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Again, apologies for the glaring error in the name of Citizens United for Carroll County in the original post.
Bonnie Grady October 18, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Okay, the word is out! Click here for related Patch story. The Silly Summit will be held OUTSIDE Carroll County, nothing but quacks on the speakers list, and the public is NOT invited! (And that includes Rothschild's closest followers like Jane, withavengance, and Michelle Jefferson.) Thank you Kym Byrnes and Patch for ferreting out the truth! http://patch.com/A-mXs6
JoeEldersburg October 18, 2011 at 06:39 PM
If our Board of Commissioners has things so smart about planning and economic development, then why can't they hire anyone to be a director of either of these 2 critical cabinet positions, now 10 months into the job? While it initially may have served their anti-government interests to consolidate power, they've increasingly found that no self-respecting professional wants to work in a poisoned environment for Tea Party nuts. Thank goodness for Patch and the Carroll County Times, who are doing their best to expose them for the jokers that they are. The only thing keeping the citizens of this county from demanding that they all immediately step down from office is the fact that so few are paying attention to the "goat rodeo" going on up in Westminster. Just tell anyone that the Commissioners are wasting $20,000 on a "forum" to refute climate change and lots more money fighting our state on pretty much everything, while our county is struggling and they'll tell you it really pisses them off. They come off like a bunch of smug bast**** suggesting they could easily afford to give us a paltry property tax break, when they have devastated the morale of our once proud public servants and completely eviscerated the efficiency of county government. They need to start worrying about the crappy job they are doing here in Carroll County and stop worrying about Tea Party politics and issues that they can't impact no matter how much taxpayer money they waste!
Zorro October 18, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Come on, Joe, chill. I buy one Hershey bar a week with my tax break. And what the heck is a goat rodeo? Do the commissioners rope goats? What's wrong with that? It keeps them busy and improves their self-esteem. And how can you object to the summit? I hear they're bringing in an actual English Lord with an authentic British accent who is smarter even than Al Gore. You should be proud of your commissioners. But I feel sorry for poor vengeance girl. She thought she was going to get to hear the truth from the mouths of our wise all-knowing commissioners and they didn't invite her to the party. How sad.
withavengance October 18, 2011 at 08:47 PM
This cant be correct. Howard, above, says "these debates to be held in community halls and libraries in your own community" and #9 on their governing principals, is Citizen Participation: this Board will promote better communication with citizens by scheduling key hearings on evenings or weekends, and provide increased opportunity for two-way dialogue at our public hearings.
lynne October 18, 2011 at 09:11 PM
My child, a student at West Middle, doesn't even have textbooks in two classes. The students have to share since the school can't afford the necessary number of books. We are so lucky in Carroll to be blessed by talented and committed teachers who do an excellent job with insufficient support. These Commissioners are a disgrace to this county.
Zorro October 18, 2011 at 09:15 PM
You're right, vengeance, Howard said these things shouldn't be discussed in Annapolis, they should be discussed locally. Howard would never mislead us, and you know, Pikesville's not that far away, and at least we the people get to view Little Lord Fauntleroy on a video. (Did you hear, they're bringing in an actual British Lord?) From Patch. "The forum is scheduled for noon at the Pikesville Hilton, and according to Jim Simpson, the county's public relations consultant, it will likely be an invitation-only event. He said details were still being worked out. " 'We only have room for 125 people,' Simpson said. 'We decided to scale back on spending, which necessitated a smaller venue. We will be inviting city, county and state officials.' "Simpson said the public will have access to the meeting through a video that will be posted on the county's website."
Zorro October 18, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Howard said: "This is why these kinds of plans are hard to put together at a state level. Those are the kinds of things that happen when the people closest to the project are left out." Simpson said: "We will be inviting city, county and state officials. The public will have access to the meeting through a video that will be posted on the county's website."
Zorro October 18, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Howard said: "Regardless of your political leanings, you want these debates to be held in community halls and libraries in your own community, not in some conference rooms in Annapolis." Simpson said: "We only have room for 125 people. We decided to scale back on spending, which necessitated a smaller venue. We will be inviting city, county and state officials." So, you see, it's not in Annapolis, it's in Pikesville. And you can watch it on the county website. "Simpson said the public will have access to the meeting through a video that will be posted on the county's website."
Bonnie Grady October 19, 2011 at 03:48 AM
Howard said: "In fact, if... we have some of the business successes we expect to have..." What exactly is the your plan to make that happen, Commissioner? By letting the Economic Development Director position remain unfilled for the rest of your term? By running the county the way you ran CATS? (Probably don't want to go there.) I heard you say recently that you would demonstrate fiscal responsibility for the county when you see your constituents demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Uhhh, looking at CATS, maybe we're better off NOT having you involved in that process.
Jane October 20, 2011 at 10:40 PM
To Eldersburg Joe: Why in the h*ll does the tea party always have to be entered into these nonsensical comments? This has ab-so-poop-ly nothing to do with the tea party, people! Besides that, the real kooks are the CUCCs. Oh, and I'm not a Republican either...I'm a registered Independent.
JoeEldersburg October 21, 2011 at 12:02 AM
@Jane-Assuming you are referring to the connection between the absurdity of a fake science forum organized by our BOC and a nut case hate blogger and the Tea Party...I'm guessing you don't read enough to realize that only the Tea Party believes in paranoid theories of UN planning takeovers or that tax cuts create jobs or that government is our enemy. None of it is true. Every Commissioner but Dave Roush supports the local and national Tea Party, but he can't articulate an independent thought if his life depended on it, so it doesn't matter whether he is Tea Party or not. The rest are Tea Party and leading us off the cliff. What a total embarrassment! At least it shows us exactly the mess our country would be in if God forbid the Tea Party were to gain control over the country. Total disaster!
Robert Armstrong October 21, 2011 at 04:29 AM
This is a HUGE embarrassment for Carroll County.
Jill October 26, 2011 at 01:15 PM
What are the citizens of Carroll County becoming? The liberals move out of the crime ridden and over taxed areas of this state to live in our great county, then want to change it to be like where they moved from. The Least Government Is The Best Government. The state government hates Carroll County because we still fight for sovernty. I say Way to go Commissioners!
David J Iacono October 26, 2011 at 01:23 PM
If what we have is the "Least" government, then why did we go from 3 commissioners to 5 with the added costs of 2 additional commissioners plus the additional staff not to mention the hiring of cronies like Jim Simpson for extremist PR propaganda. This sounds like bigger government, not less. We don't need more commissioners to waste our tax dollars on bogus climate change summits. If you want less government, support fewer commissioners. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Robert Armstrong October 26, 2011 at 02:00 PM
LOL Do you call hiring a phony English Lord as "fighting for sovernty (sp)"???
Jane October 27, 2011 at 11:55 AM
And I say: WAY TO GO, Jill!
withavengeance December 13, 2011 at 03:48 PM
LOL, you're my evil twin, signed up under MY moniker. Consider yourself reported, pal.
withavengeance December 13, 2011 at 03:50 PM
LOL, the more the Tea Party is vilified by people like you, the more we know you're all SCARED of us!
withavengeance December 13, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Because Carroll Countians voted on this.
David J Iacono December 13, 2011 at 08:28 PM
I'd like to suggest that Rothschild seek some professional help. Socialism is good when thr right-wingers are getting subsidies. Take Michelle Bachmann. She has made a career living off of government subsidies and funds. Many right-wing agribusinesses receive millions in subsidies from the government. The military costs are a subsidy to the wealthy who have their interests protected overseas by our military. All those who send their kids to public school are receiving a taxpayer subsidy. Get off the socialism paranoia already. How the hell did buddists get into this issue?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something