Poll Shows Maryland Residents Frustrated With Growth

<p>Residents say the state's smart growth policies have done little to reign in sprawl, though questions remain about what action to take.</p>
October 19, 2007, 12pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Most Marylanders believe that development and growth are occurring too rapidly and are affecting their communities negatively, according to a poll released yesterday.

The telephone poll, a random sample of 1,000 registered voters surveyed by 1000 Friends of Maryland, an anti-sprawl group, found that most respondents want the state to take a stronger role in coordinating and steering growth to existing communities."

"Asked about the pace of growth and development in their communities, 53 percent said it was too fast, 37 percent said it was about right, and 8 percent said it was too slow.

Most respondents agreed that the public does not have enough control over local plans for growth and that many of the state's problems are a direct result of growth and development. More than two-thirds disagreed with the notion that Maryland has enough open space and that further protections are unnecessary.

Leslie Knapp, associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said the pollsters evidently failed to pose some crucial follow-up questions. He gave as an example the issue of people's desire to have the state steer growth to existing communities.

"The problem then becomes that you have to deal with the NIMBY factor - not in my back yard," said Knapp, whose organization lobbies on legislative and policy issues for the state's 23 counties and the city of Baltimore. "When you try to concentrate growth, you get significant citizen resistance. You'd need to ask people what amount of new development would you be willing to accept to keep it out of more rural areas."

In a similar vein, he referred to the apparently wide support for mass transit. "But if you put together a good system - one that encourages people to use it, that's convenient and efficient - it costs a lot of money, and there's a limit to what people will pay," said Knapp."

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Published on Thursday, October 18, 2007 in The Baltimore Sun
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