ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland residents will have an additional 60 days to review and make comments on PlanMaryland, the first statewide development plan aimed at reducing sprawl, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Thursday in response to wary local officials who sought more time to study the plan.
The Maryland Department of Planning will release a revised version of the draft plan on Sept. 7. The department will then begin a 60-day review period through Nov. 7 to receive new comments.
Local officials, however, say they need more than 60 additional days. Blaine Young, president of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners, said the commission voted Thursday to support a resolution other counties are considering for a one-year deferral. Young said while he appreciates the governor's extended review period, local officials would prefer more time for review.
"It's a very complex document for a lot of people to digest and fully understand the complete ramifications that could come from it, and it could change land-use decisions going forward forever with the counties and municipalities," Young said.
New comments during the review period will be incorporated into the final version of PlanMaryland, which will be submitted to O'Malley by mid-November, the planning department said. The department released the first draft of the plan on April 28.
"I have appreciated all the input we've received so far from local officials and residents during the initial 120-day comment period since April," said Richard Hall, who is the secretary of the planning department. "Achieving complete agreement on the process may be difficult, but there seems to be broad accord on the objectives of PlanMaryland. If our children and grandchildren ask 30 years from now who paid attention to the health of our land, water and communities, we want to be able to answer: We did."
The plan concerns local officials, because the state will be able to make spending decisions on infrastructure based on how well counties follow the plan.
PlanMaryland, which is the result of more than three years of work between the planning department, state agencies and local governments, is being designed to improve coordination between state agencies and local government to help the state better accommodate a projected million additional residents in the state during the next 25 years.
O'Malley, speaking at the Maryland Association of Counties conference last week, said Maryland is now the fifth most densely populated state in the nation, and he cautioned that the "red light is blinking" in warning to form a comprehensive development plan before sprawl consumes too much forest and agricultural land.
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