current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Prince George's County defines smart growth by shrinking the size of its open spaces

While other communities find a common vision making use of historic districts and clean up past environmental y damaged areas to reinvigorate their established , Prince George’s County at times takes the build and move on approach to development. Given the high cost to reinvest in already developed sections of the county, and given the “cheap” cost of open space, the county action plan is to build more and more by encroaching on the county’s general plan for a rural tier and preserved open space. The rubric for this action is, I want mine while the getting is good; the future is someone else’s problem.

The county should be strengthening municipal and established community finances in both the developed and developing tier per the county’s own plan by encouraging tax-generating commercial development in already environmentally ravaged areas. Prince George’s County should be encouraging the redevelopment and construction of “green” projects in these areas to meet the needs of over-looked residents, bringing jobs and retail infrastructure support. Development without a plan can “…drive disinvestment, reduce competitiveness, and degrade the environment.” A visionary county knows that new growth in the right place “… improves the economy and environment of existing communities.” Development in the 21st century mist reply on forward thinking ideas such as building “… places people want to live in for what they are, rather than for what they are not.” [1]

Building and developing in the right place is not using up every square acre of open space because it is cheaper today than redeveloping our established areas. “Smart growth uses the term “open space” broadly to mean natural areas both in and surrounding localities that provide important community space, habitat for plants and animals, recreational opportunities, farm and ranch land (working lands), places of natural beauty and critical environmental areas (e.g. wetlands). Open space preservation supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, improving our communities quality of life, and guiding new growth into existing communities.” While there is a trend to preserve open space for the benefits this brings to everyone, Prince George’s County will be considering adding as an attractive feature yet another strip mall heading 180 degrees against prevailing upscale development efforts. According to the Sustainable Communities Network (SCN) “[t]here is growing political will (except evidently in Prince George's County) to save the "open spaces" that Americans treasure. Voters in 2000 overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to fund open space protection efforts. The reasons for such support are varied and attributable to the benefits associated with open space protection. Protection of open space provides many fiscal benefits, including increasing local property value (thereby increasing property tax bases), providing tourism dollars, and decreases local tax increases (due to the savings of reducing the construction of new infrastructure). Management of the quality and supply of open space also ensures that prime farm and ranch lands are available, prevents flood damage, and provides a less expensive and natural alternative for providing clean drinking water. The availability of open space also provides significant environmental quality and health benefits. Open space protects animal and plant habitat, places of natural beauty, and working lands by removing the development pressure and redirecting new growth to existing communities. Additionally, preservation of open space benefits the environment by combating air pollution, attenuating noise, controlling wind, providing erosion control, and moderating temperatures. Open space also protects surface and ground water resources by filtering trash, debris, and chemical pollutants before they enter a water system.”[2]

Why are we in Prince George’s County even thinking about reducing the size of the rural tier to build a strip mall in the Woodland Historic area of Upper Marlboro? Is it not bad enough that we bravely and cleverly decided to bring all of the county trash to a site 1.2 mile from a major tributary of the Patuxent River, and right next to nationally recognized critical habitats? Why are we still enamored with the failing development models of the last century? Where is the forward thinking county which would be a leader, not a follower? When will we begin taking care of our established communities, and reinvesting where the people are?

[1] Sustainable Communities Network (SCN);

[2] Sustainable Communities Network (SCN);


Richard Stafursky said...


Sometimes I think that the only natural landscape that communities don't try to develop is shear, rock mountain walls or the middle of lakes. They really believe that the open space problem is "solved" when it open space is gone.

Anonymous said...

Is it any wonder that the groundwater levels in the developing tier are rising now? The stream valleys have been encroached and the wetlands have parking lots. So what's to be done?