Protect our pleasant peninsula from overdevelopment
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 (www.co.cal.md.us/ 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.
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