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Meeting Tuesday to "Chart a New Course" for Chesapeake

Growth Control Effort On Eastern Shore Voted Down

Kalbird1 An effort to control sprawl on Maryland’s Eastern Shore was defeated today after an intense debate over whether rural land owners would see their property values suffer.

The Wicomico County Council today voted 4-3 against a proposal to allow fewer homes per acre in rural areas. The Salisbury/Wicomico County Planning and Zoning Commission, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many others had been pushing for a new standard of one house per 10 or 15 acres, replacing a current standard of one home per three acres in some areas.

The county’s decision to keep allowing intense development on farms and in forests was a disappointment, in part because it went against the conclusions of knowledgeable citizens appointed by the County Council itself.  A group of farmers, business owners and others appointed to an advisory panel back in 2007 suggested that the county should try to preserve more farmland by eliminating a current zoning policy that rewards developers for more intense construction.

The county received at least 1,400 petitions from Wicomico residents in favor of tightening up the local zoning policies.

But despite all this, the county council voted to keep the current zoning laws in place. And that means more development eating up fields, farms and forests on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Alan Girard, manager of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Heart of the Chesapeake office in Salisbury, said: “The status quo isn’t hard to predict: increasing congestion, longer drives to work, dirtier waters, farms without enough farmland, and higher taxes to serve sprawl development.  Just look at other areas around the Bay where governments have failed to act.”

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