The recent Environment Maryland report brings up several important issues about the direction of growth on the Eastern Shore and the tools and resource our local governments need to effectively manage that growth. While the report highlights good examples of comprehensive plan inconsistencies in the state, it is important to recognize the efforts our local governments are taking to follow smart growth principles. . Our Eastern Shore counties and towns are working hard against development proposals that go against their comprehensive planning and to their credit, are doing the best in the state to reverse sprawl trends and direct growth where it should be – in and around designated growth areas.
The Eastern Shore is unique in its number of small towns and small-sized priority funding areas, making the challenges our local towns, counties and municipalities a unique and especially challenging one. Eastern Shore 2010, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s (ESLC) regional agreement aimed at strengthening land protection efforts on the Eastern Shore, is one of the ways our local counties have stepped up to take control of growth and avoid making land use planning decisions that are not in line with their long-term needs and goals. One of the key goals of Eastern Shore 2010 –directing 80 percent of all new development to villages and towns – will help our towns and villages grow in way that is consistent with their comprehensive planning process and we are proud of the counties who have signed on to strive toward the goals of Eastern Shore 2010.. More work is needed - in terms of education, resources and legislation to support municipalities in their efforts – as local leaders must make the important decisions needed to manage growth effectively.
In just the next 25 years, the Eastern Shore is expected to grow by 160,000 people – growth that could forever alter the landscape we love so much. Our local leaders must take strong steps to manage growth more effectively before it is too late; before the Eastern Shore we know and love is forever altered.