“You can make a difference for future generations,” says the State of Maryland. “Attend and be heard!” The state is holding six Smart Growth listening sessions to hear residents’ thoughts on development, transportation, historic preservation, the environment and more.
But there’s no listening session inside the Beltway, or in any of the I-270 cities. Nor in Columbia or Frederick. There’s nothing wrong with having a session in the lower Eastern Shore region (total population about 165,000), but how about one inside Baltimore City (population 642,000)?
The DC suburban listening session is in the far northern reaches of “Silver Spring”, somewhat near Sandy Spring and Burtonsville in an entirely low-density suburban area. It’s nowhere near Metro. One bus does stop at the school where the meeting will be held, but only for 2-3 runs a day in each direction between 4 and 5 pm (the meeting starts at 6:30).
The locations of the listening sessions make sense if organizers decided ahead of time to have one in each “region”, then placed a dot on a map somewhere generally in the middle of the region without considering transit at all. They’re near various populated places, but (except for the most remote sessions) in none, and in locations completely inaccessible to transit service. Maybe they were trying not to favor any individual town by staying away from all of them.
Since the sessions are all near low-density suburban or rural areas, almost all the voices to whom they’re listening will be from those types of communities. That’s not reflective of Maryland’s whole population. And since driving is the only way to reach any of the sessions, they’ll only be listening to opinions on Smart Growth from people who don’t take transit, and certainly not to anyone without a car, whether by choice or by economic necessity. That’s not so smart.
If you can make it to the “Silver Spring” session, it’s Thursday, September 18th. Tell Maryland officials your opinions on Smart Growth, and encourage them to listen a little harder to all the Marylanders who live in the state’s many great, more densely populated communities.