Maryland county and city officials and staff met on February 6, 2014 for a half-day workshop designed for members of the Local Leaders Council and co-sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland.
The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences building community support for smart growth initiatives. Participants discussed the values that resonate in their communities, from economic prosperity and fiscal responsibility to environmental stewardship and quality of life.
“Our basic philosophy is that environmental stewardship and economic development are interdependent. If we are going to succeed, we can’t sacrifice one for the other,” said Gee Williams, Mayor of Berlin, MD, who went on to note that Berlin has doubled its downtown businesses just in the past five years with this strategy in mind.
“We have a lot of energy around green investment right now,” said Salisbury, MD’s City Council President Jake Day. “Sustainable development makes the best economic sense, and we need good examples we can point to in making that case.”
Leaders also talked about the fiscal downsides of sprawl development. Commissioner David Dunmyer of Queen Anne’s County encouraged other leaders to consider that context. “It is crucial to talk about how development decisions affect the public budget,” he explained.
Commissioner Candice Kelly of Charles County highlighted the overall take-home message from the day’s discussion. “It can be easy to get lost in the weeds and bogged down with the technical,” she said. “It’s critical, however, to remind ourselves and the public, this is about quality of life and making a happy place for us to live.”
Workshops with peer-to-peer sharing opportunities are one of the benefits offered to members of the Local Leaders Council. If you are a local elected official interested in opportunities like this, become a Local Leaders Council member today.