I wasn't interviewed for the smart growth study, but, had I been asked my opinion, I would have said that Baltimore County is ahead of the pack in trying to give citizens what they want inside its PFA, which, in essence, is the entire area of the County within the URDL. In helping to launch NeighborSpace in 2003, the County made sure that there was an organization in place to sustain, create and protect the the kinds of places Benfield references. I invite you to take a look at a few of them, particularly Tollgate Wyndham Preserve and Greenbrier Memorial Garden. County Executive Kamenetz has advanced a bond bill in the State legislature that, if passed, would help us begin a park on land we own on Robin Hill Road, acquire new land for public open space elsewhere in the County, and complete our strategic conservation plan. (I'll have more to say about the bill in coming weeks).
The study makes a number recommendations for realigning State and local policies, many of which turn on local governments weaving PFAs more thoughtfully into their comprehensive planning processes, drawing them more broadly to include non-residential and mixed use projects, and achieving greater flexibility in both defining PFAs and in reducing regulatory restrictions within them in return for reducing growth elsewhere. To this I would add an admonition from County Councilman Tom Quirk, who said, in the 9/20/2011 edition of the Catonsville Times that "open space and density have to balance each other." To truly achieve smart growth, we must protect public open space and ensure that what we protect are the kinds of places that people will instinctively love.