Power is entangling, it has an adhesive quality. People who have held it frequently do not want to give it up. We have seen this frequent drama play out nationally and now locally.
Lisa Ghezzi was appointed by the Talbot County Council to serve on the Counties’ Planning and Zoning Commission in June of 2019. All of us who know her were not surprised that she dug in, did her homework and in some cases came to conclusions that angered certain members of the appointing authority.
Now, there are a number of matters that come before the Planing and Zoning Commission and overall their work is spelled out in a comprehensive plan. I am sure there is a lot of detail that would show differences of opinion among Commissioners but that is the work of a reporter and that is not my job.
But, the most pronounced theme of this drama is one of power. Who has it and how will they exercise it. Ms Ghezzi thought that procedurally and substantively the full development of Lakeside, with its plan for 2,500 homes and commercial services, should be revisited. Not stopped but revisited in the context of 2023. After all the initial permits date to 2006 although there is confusion in even that conclusion.
Land Developers talk about economic growth in sweeping superlatives. But then those who choose to run for office or accept appointments must consider policing and schools and traffic and the capacity of the surrounding landscape to escape significant harm. When the developers big equipment moves in it tears down woods, levels fields, spreads concrete and creates the pathways for wastewater disposal. There are no free lunches.
In short, there are costs and benefits to development and when the pressures that inevitably follow big development plans are asserted voters are right to press public officials to understand and act on the cost side of the equation as well.
The question now is whether at the recent election a truly new Council was elected. And when I say new council I am referring to all five of those elected in November. Presumably the two incumbents who heard from the voters a second time are also newly informed.
The term Reset was and is used by those opposed to Lakeside as a four-fold expansion of Trappe. And it is clear that the forces of development do not want a Reset. Let me suggest another word—Revisit. Given the intense focus on Lakeside a truly new council cannot help but Revisit Lakeside. Voters want that done but just as importantly it is time for the new council to assert the responsibility and authority given it in last months election.
And from my point of view any revisitation requires a process that necessarily involves the Planning and Zoning Commission. If I were on the Council and wanted a timely and thorough job done I would want Lisa Ghezzi to be a part of that review.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.