It was a few years ago, when I was driving East on Route 50, I noticed a sign for the Lakeside development and thought, “I wonder what that’s all about.” I later read that it is a 2,500 home planned development in Trappe. That worried me. That is a big development–a game changer.
Scroll forward to 2022, and Lakeside is emerging as a key issue as Talbot County prepares for the November 8 election. Resetting Lakeside is on the ballot in the form of electing members of the County Council. The Reset Lakeside campaign seeks to elect candidates that will reset the approval process for Lakeside.
Until recently “Resetting Lakeside” seemed like a promising idea to me, but then I pondered, “Do I know what “Resetting Lakeside” means? In short order I realized, it’s complicated. I decided to reach out to Dan Watson, a leader of the Talbot Integrity Project (TIP) to get some answers.
Last week I spent some time with Dan to discuss several questions I had about Lakeside. I wanted to know why it needed to be “reset” and whether a “reset” was even possible. When I met with Dan, I learned that a 16-minute opinion video of Dan would be published last Saturday. (If you have not watched it, I encourage you to do so—you will learn a lot.)
Here are several of my questions—key questions in my view—about the “Reset Lakeside” campaign. After listening to the answers, I agree that Lakeside needs to be reset and that candidates for the Talbot County Council who share that view should be elected.
Here are Dan’s answers to my questions.
I am regularly getting ads from Lakeside at Trappe offering homes for sale or lease. Isn’t the horse already out of the barn?
No, it is NOT too late to “reset” the Lakeside situation. About 25 homes (of 2501!) are indeed under construction, but there is a sound legal basis—and local political will–to reconsider the earlier approval which was based on omissions and misunderstandings. A proper review can affect sewage issues, the pace and scale of development, and matters previously ignored (e.g., schools).
If Talbot County voters elect five members corresponding to your recommendations, when would construction at Lakeside stop?
Once a new Council made up of members committed to “resetting Lakeside,” is installed, one of its first acts can be adoption of a resolution acknowledging primacy of the Planning Commission on “consistency” and bringing us back in conformance with Maryland Law. That should result in a “pause in place” of the development while the County reconsiders Lakeside approvals anew.
Please elaborate on why the Council should recognize that the non-partisan planning commission should have final say on whether sewer permits are consistent with the Talbot County Comprehensive Plan. You also say that Maryland law requires this.
TIP wants to see the Lakeside approvals be in accordance with the law. The history is complicated, but the Planning Commission did initially say Lakeside was consistent with our Comp Plan (whereupon the Council gave it a green light). But when the Planning Commission came to understand new information omitted initially, coupled with misinformation, the Commission reversed its position—as permitted under law when new information arises. The Council refused to recognize the Commission’s action, and improperly let Lakeside chug away.
In addition to concerns about sewage, many of us worry about the impact of a large new development on existing healthcare facilities, schools, roads, and police. Even if the Lakeside developers were to address the sewer issues, should the development still be stopped?
YES. But TIP’s goal is not to “stop” Lakeside per se, but to pause the project (“reset button”) while all those matters are brought back to the Council to be addressed for the very first time. The only thing of substance reviewed up to now was the sewer system…and even that has big problems!
What should future development on the Eastern Shore look like? Should there be a cap on the population of Talbot County?
That is exactly the kind of question the citizens of Talbot County should address when next revising our Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan begins with citizen participation, and it will be done in the next few years under direction of this new Council—even more reason to elect TIP’s endorsed candidates who respect the Comprehensive Plan.
Reset Lakeside has endorsed candidates for the Talbot County Council. Who are they?
Pete Lesher, plus four of the following candidates (all of whom have sound views on “land use”). Alphabetically, they are Dappert, Haythe, Jackson, Kane, Mielke, and Montgomery. (These include Ds and Rs, as TIP is a non-partisan organization. NOTE: Lesher is called out above others because he is a proven advocate for the Comp Plan and responsible growth, and an opponent of Lakeside for the past 18 months.)
I have been disappointed to talk to some Talbot County neighbors who tell me they do not plan to vote on November 8. Tell me why, if for no other reason, they should vote for the candidates you have endorsed for the Talbot County Council?
Folks who “never vote” should make an exception this time–to protect Talbot County from swiftly degrading into “just another place.” If we wanted to live in a congested suburbia like Howard, or Harford or PG Counties, we could have moved there.
Talbot is unique, and we can preserve it if we act. We have that responsibility.
After talking to Dan Watson, listening to the Spy video, and reading some material regarding the project (some of it critical of TIP and “Reset Lakeside”), I think Lakeside needs to be reset. I hope all of us in Talbot County will review the facts and vote accordingly. I like Talbot County. I want to see growth happen the right way. A “reset” will help make that happen.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.