Tomorrow I will argue House Bill 252 which seeks to repeal the most insidious attempt at seizing private property rights that Maryland has ever faced. PlanMaryland is the State of Maryland’s attempt at a forced centralized land use planning mechanism. While local authorities are being told they have the final say on what land use policies will be implemented in their local jurisdictions, the reality is that the State threatens to with hold school or highway funding unless the local authorities agree to any “suggestions” made by the State.
PlanMaryland is not a law, it is a poicy plan for growth and preservation in the State and a blueprint to help guide State agencies in their decision making process on programs and funding for growth preservation.
Governor Martin O’Malley accepted PlanMaryland and filed Executive Order 01.01.2011.22 which outlines the process for implementing the plan. The State Legislature never authorized or envisioned such a broad and over reaching program as the central planning found in the PlanMaryland file.
If PlanMaryland is allowed to proceed, it will weaken local government planning and zoning authority and reduce State aid to some local jurisdictions.Therefore, everything that can be done to prevent PlanMaryland from gaining Statewide acceptance should be done.
Last year’s effort to revoke PlanMaryland, HB-654 received an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee.
As you are undoubtedly aware, many rural residents of the State are convinced that the Executive and Legislative Branches of Maryland State Government look upon those jurisdictions outside of Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties as but a part of the fiefdom.
One of the most recent transgressions against the rural residents of Maryland by the urban Democrat majority is regarding the BAT Septic Technology and Tier Map requirements meant to control how rural land owners develop, operate, and use their private real property. As reported in my most recent story the Commissioner’s from Cecil County have voted to tell the State of Maryland “No!”, as to providing a Tier Map for the County showing how all future land within the County will be divided up for purposes of development. The Commissioners will be joining other elected officials from rural areas of the State on September 19, 2 P.M. at the MACo Headquarters.
One of the things we would like to compile to present to the Governor from the rural area elected officials is a “Declaration of Grievances”. What actions by the State that have adversely affected rural residents are you most aggrieved by and believe should be included in the document to be presented to the Governor?
Today the Cecil County Commissioners took a step reminiscent of the first shot at Lexington and Concord or on Fort Sumter. For weeks the Commissioners have struggled with the question of how to comply with the State’s mandate of taking property and development rights away from rural constituents without compensating them for the lose, as the State law now dictates, and protecting their constituents property rights as the U.S. and State Constitutions provide.
The State offered a map that turned over 75% of the County into protected areas where building was restricted. The Commissioners split 3-2 over how much less could be given and still comply with the law. Three of the Cecil County Commissioners decided to try to stay as close to the existing comprehensive plan as possible and this caused great unrest with all parties including those commissioners trying to comply with the law. It seems that in the end the idea of joining forces with as many other rural counties as possible and taking this matter to the courts won out and today the Cecil County Commissioners voted unanimously to tell the State “NO”, we will not go quietly into that dark night, we will fight for the property rights of our citizens and against the unlawful taking by the State of farmers’ and other rural citizens’ property rights without a just compensation for their lost equity. I will follow up this story later but must run to a 9-11 memorial for now.
The question and answer period of the MACO conference was interesting and surprising. I had anticipated being booed or not invited back if I spoke against all the overly intrusive programs unconstitutionally being forced upon local governments in Maryland under the guise of being environmentally necessary but amounting to nothing more than the taking of property rights and local autonomy. While I did not get booed, I was surprised to be told that I could get arrested, fortunately the good professor was talking about under previous interpretations of the law such as was done to Upton Sinclair.
County Government Officials from across the State gathered in Ocean City Maryland to discuss a variety of different issues affecting County Governments. Delegate Smigiel was one of three speakers on the panel discussing the Maryland and U.S. Constitution and their significance to public policy makers at the County level.
When I asked Secretary Summers to justify the draconian, heavy handed tactics being used by the Maryland Department of the Environment to take private property rights and value from rural citizens his response astounded even me. In a response reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” he responded that the cost would be ” a modest $8,000″ to the homeowner. Putting aside the elitist arrogance of such a response, he is factually incorrect for a number of reasons. First, the $8,000 projection is a very conservative estimate for the initial installation of a BAT Septic System. It costs much more when you look at the yearly maintenance cost every year. Unfortunately, there is not much new construction going on out there so I don’t know why the Secretary would focus on this “modest $8,000″ estimate instead of the more likely, $12,000 to $15,000 it cost to install a BAT Septic System into an existing home and you still have to add the yearly maintenance and upkeep cost.
The Secretary then tries to justify the heavy handedness of his proposed regulations by arguing these new homes are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. Go to Rock Hall or any other small town on the Eastern Shore and you will find there are thousands of older homes belonging to families that have made their living working on the Bay for generations and that their houses are merely located near where they work. These watermen and their families are by no means rich nor do they consider $8,000 to be a modest sum. In fact in many of the rural areas the true cost of $15,000 plus maintenance costs is a very significant portion of,if not more than, their yearly income.
These new regulations, which were specifically rejected by the State Legislature, are going to require these BAT Septic Systems be added to any home where the effluent is increased such as when a bedroom is added to the home. So those in the rural areas who want to have an Inlaw or parent to come live with them as opposed to going into a nursing home will have this additional cost thrust upon them. Have a child moving back home because the economy makes it impossible for them to find work, the same result.
In closing Secretary Summers said that these costs are not more than those on public water systems are already paying. I doubt that anyone on public systems are being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have a child or parent move into their home. The Secretary leaves out of his equation the fact that Septic System owners also pay through out the life of their systems the cost of cleaning and maintaining them.
The Secretary never addresses the taking issue, nor does he attempt to justify the heavy handed tactics of circumventing the legislature other than to say, we believe we can pass regulations without the legislature. (See previous tapes)
If you think the Secretary’s $8,000 projected fee is excessive please let us know through your comments below and better yet call and let the Secretary know at 410-537-3084 or 1-800-633-6101. You can E-mail the Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
COMAR RevisionsThe Cecil County Commissioners have stepped forward and taken a public stance against the proposed BAT septic regulations which will significantly adversely affect local county government and rural property owners. If your elected officials have not stood up for your property rights and gotten involved in trying to stop this injustice then call them, write them and confront them in public hearings and ask them why not!
You elect your neighbors and friends to protect your rights and to protect you from the over reach of government. If those you elect are not doing their job, as the Cecil County Commissioners have done in this instance, then you need to replace them with citizens who will protect your constitutional rights.
As part of my efforts to educate the public as to the actions of Maryland State Government, in this case the Maryland Department of the Environment, and its ongoing War on Rural Maryland. Here is the first of many more of my video clips showing first hand what is being done to the rural residents of Maryland.