Pro­tect our pleas­ant penin­sula from overde­vel­op­ment

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum - Ron Klauda, Prince Fred­er­ick

I was told Gra­cie Rymer coined the name “Pleas­ant Penin­sula” for Calvert County in 1974. The first cit­i­zen-based com­pre­hen­sive plan, the Pleas­ant Penin­sula Plan, earned the county a na­tional award. Its main goal was to keep our penin­sula pleas­ant. Later, the county tourism of­fice coined the moniker “Pleas­ant Liv­ing by Tide­wa­ter.”

The name Pleas­ant Penin­sula speaks to me and oth­ers. I like it. Nearly sur­rounded by wa­ter (Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and the Patux­ent River) on three sides makes our county a penin­sula. What makes it pleas­ant?

From a nat­u­ral re­sources per­spec­tive, Calvert is blessed with abun­dance. We have lots of trees (about half the coun­try is forested), 30,000-plus acres of rich farm­land, unique fea­tures like the Calvert Cliffs and pro­tected ar­eas where we can play. The county has ex­cel­lent pub­lic and pri­vate schools, two re­search uni­ver­si­ties, a com­mu­nity col­lege, the marine mu­seum, gifts of Jef­fer­son Pat­ter­son Park and Mu­seum and An­n­marie Sculp­ture Gar­den and Arts Cen­ter from gen­er­ous landown­ers, a state-of-the-art hos­pi­tal, top-notch po­lice and fire pro­tec­tion, friendly peo­ple, at­trac­tive town cen­ters, good roads, depend­able elec­tri­cal ser­vice, ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees and other ameni­ties. Calvert is close to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and Bal­ti­more, within driv­ing range of jobs and ur­ban ex­pe­ri­ences. In­deed, a very “Pleas­ant Penin­sula.”

My wife and I moved to Calvert in 1981. Our two sons were born, raised and schooled here. We like the county and won’t be mov­ing any time soon. We’ve seen changes dur­ing the past 36 years — some good, some not. In 1981, the pop­u­la­tion was only about 35,000. Now we num­ber closer to 91,000. For­tu­nately growth has slowed. In 1981, there was a sin­gle traf­fic light along Route 2/4. Now there are 25 sig­nals and a lot more traf­fic. Farm fields and forests have been lost to de­vel­op­ment.

In spite of these and other not-so-good changes, we think Calvert is still pleas­ant. But none of us liv­ing here should take these bless­ings for granted. Even though we’re all busy with fam­ily, jobs and other daily ac­tiv­i­ties, we must stay in­formed and get in­volved. We must pay at­ten­tion to the ac­tions of our elected of­fi­cials — to make sure their de­ci­sions don’t al­low the “pleas­ant­ness” of our county to slip away.

Now is es­pe­cially a time to stay in­formed, pay at­ten­tion and get in­volved.

If you read the lo­cal news­pa­pers, you know the county’s cur­rent com­pre­hen­sive plan, adopted in 2004 and amended in 2010 ( Doc­u­men­tCen­ter/Home/ View/254), is be­ing up­dated. The plan is the blue­print for how Calvert will de­velop dur­ing the next 20-plus years. It sets forth the vi­sion, goals, poli­cies and ac­tions that will guide de­ci­sions about land use, the econ­omy, hous­ing, com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties, trans­porta­tion, nat­u­ral re­sources and sus­tain- abil­ity — all things that can pro­tect or de­stroy our Pleas­ant Penin­sula. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing zon­ing or­di­nances pro­vide the rules for how land will be used and de­vel­oped. Zon­ing or­di­nances must be con­sis­tent with the com­pre­hen­sive plan. Our elected of­fi­cials are legally ob­li­gated to sup­port it.

The up­dated plan and or­di­nances, im­por­tant doc­u­ments be­ing writ­ten as you read this let­ter, will de­ter­mine if Calvert re­mains a Pleas­ant Penin­sula or, in­stead, gets overde­vel­oped and be­comes a less at­trac­tive, less safe place to live — a place that no longer gives us the qual­ity of life we en­joy. Nice places don’t stay that way un­less the peo­ple who live there pro­tect what they have.

Tell your elected of­fi­cials what you want Calvert to be — tell them early and of­ten. If you don’t, they will do what they want. Let’s all pro­tect our Pleas­ant Penin­sula to­gether.

Com­ments? Ideas? Con­tact me: rjk­

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