The following is a statement issued by ESLC to several local media outlets in support of County Ordinance No 8-25.
We are writing to express our support for the recently introduced County Ordinance No. 8-25, which represents the biggest conservation step forward for the County in the lifetime of our organization. This legislation is a crucially important measure to protect farmland and build strong, vibrant towns in Queen Anne’s County for several reasons:
It creates a strong rural conservation tool: This legislation offers a springboard for the county’s current transfer of development rights (TDR) program. It complements the current conservation toolbox and diversifies it, as the TDRs are market-based rather than public funding-based.
It gives farmers another option: The TDR portion of this legislation boosts equity for farmers by giving them an opportunity to realize land development value without actually developing their farmland. The subdivision restriction portion ensures the critical mass of agricultural land remains intact to fuel the county economy and honor our heritage.
It stops rural sprawl and supports thriving towns: This legislation creates a marriage between protecting farmland and supporting vibrant towns. Towns build off development potential transferred away from farmland. Rural land is thereby protected while growth areas can channel development interest to realize their communities’ plans for the future.
It prevents spending for unnecessary new infrastructure: This legislation helps ensure new growth will occur where the services/infrastructure exist to support it.
It exhibits regional leadership: Queen Anne’s County has been making steady progress toward the goals of Eastern Shore 2010. This legislation gets at the heart of the regional agreement, Eastern Shore 2010, by advancing land protection and directing growth toward towns.
It implements the community vision for the County: The 2002 County Comprehensive Plan is underpinned by two major themes: direct growth to existing communities and keeping rural areas rural. This legislation addresses both these points.
We commend Commissioner Eric Wargotz for his leadership on this important issue and look forward to the successful passage of this important legislation.
Rob Etgen and Amy Owsley,
Rob Etgen is the Executvie Director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. Amy Owsley is the Director of Land Use Planning for ESLC.