Why shouldn’t we exempt MGM from the Clean Indoor Air Act?

At 9:30 AM on Wednesday, January 23, the Prince George’s County Zoning Hearing Examiner is having a hearing to determine whether or not the Zoning Examiner will recommend to the County Council that the MGM National Harbor should be allowed an exemption from state law that forbids smoking in casinos. Why should they be given an exemption?

MGM is going to argue that they qualify for the exemption because they’re going to carve out space in the casino – arguably some of the most value floor space in the state – for a “cigar lounge.” In the real world, a

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Speaking of Casinos

Speaking of casinos – referring to the previous post – we’ve been hearing from people in Prince George’s County for more than a year now about the MGM National Harbor.  And they aren’t contacting us to complain about the gambling.  Even people we’ve talked to who are opposed to legalized gambling in general are willing to consider it a necessary evil to help fund badly needed improvements to county schools.

While their specifics may vary, what the complaints we’ve been hearing have in common boils down to the extraordinarily and inappropriately special treatment the MGM has been getting, since its

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Pigtown’s Russell St. Homeless Shelter

A couple of months ago – before it occurred to us that we should have a website – one of us heard from a friend of his who knew somebody who lives in Baltimore in the neighborhood called “Pigtown” near the stadiums. We’ll call her “Mary,” because that’s actually her name.

Mary had heard about Local Initiatives and asked if we could do anything about the homeless people living under the Russell St. ramp.

Take a look at the Google Maps screenshot below. See Russell St.? There’s M&T Bank (Ravens) Stadium in the upper right corner. Note the Horseshoe Casino

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Owings Mills, Jr.?

Hi.  This article was first published in the Carroll County Times on November 30.  If you prefer to read that version, just  click on this link.  Otherwise, here goes…


According to Google Maps, the distance from Eldersburg to 10300 Mill Run Circle in Owings Mills is 10.5 miles. More or a less a straight shot east, down Liberty Road.

In case you’re wondering, 10300 Mill Run Circle is the address of what used to be the Owings Mills Mall. It was a nice mall, but couldn’t hold its market and eventually succumbed to the onslaught of big box

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Every dollar counts.


Every dollar counts.
Thanksgiving, November 23, 2017

To make sure local government is paying attention to the concerns of the people it serves, EvenBetterPlaces.org conducts online surveys – like the one we’re now running about high density residential and large store commercial development in Carroll County, Maryland.

Honestly, the issues we address are important enough to you, your family and community that you shouldn’t need any special incentive, no other reason to particulate, but then we understand that people are often too busy or may be reluctant to respond. It’s not surprising. We do, after all, live in a

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Approving a pig in a poke.

Maybe, just maybe the current version of the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan isn’t quite ready for prime time.

The Board of Commissioners is considering whether or not to approve the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan developed by the County’s Planning Department and endorsed by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Among others, the Plan includes three new “land use designations” that you can see in the screenshot below from Page 214 of the Plan in “Appendix D, Future Land Use Definitions.”

To be clear, these are not “zoning classifications.”

“No kidding!”

You’re right. There are no details. No store sizes limits, if

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Two too many degrees of freedom.

“Degrees of freedom” is a mathematical term for the number of factors that affect a given outcome.

“Oh geez. Is there going to be quiz at the end of this article?”

No. Don’t worry. This is a pass-fail post and you’ve already passed just by showing up and reading it.

Having too many degrees of freedom means having more variables than the data you need to answer a given question. Too many variables. It’s the problem the Carroll County Planning Department keeps giving the Board of Commissioners – and the people of Eldersburg – every time the Board is charged

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What’s wrong with Carroll County’s government?

No form of government or implementation of that form is perfect. Of course not, but Carroll County has a particular combination of problems, three of them to be precise, that are conspiring to adversely affect its development and growth.

To be clear, the problem isn’t personnel. The career staff in the government and the elected and appointed officials are good, hardworking, dedicated public servants. Some of them more effective, better at what they do than others, but individuals are not the problem. No. The problem is structural and the good news is that it can be fixed in relatively short

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To Incorporate Or Not To Incorporate?

Are you feeling threatened by a Comprehensive Plan that would increase residential density and encourage large, “Big Box Store” commercialization in Eldersburg?

Does it seem like the County’s planners are going to do what they want to the community where you live – whether you like it or not?

That’s not the way it is in Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown, Union Bridge and Westminster.

“No kidding. Why’s that?!”

Good question. It’s because they’re all incorporated cities and control their own zoning. That’s why. Compared to these cities, the unincorporated community of Eldersburg is way too easy

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Eldersburg Town Hall Meeting Update

Long story short…

Hi. The issue on the table is the Planning Department’s reliance upon Big Box Store commercialization in Eldersburg as a means for growing Carroll County. They should be concentrating on bringing business and manufacturing employers to the County, but commercialization is much easier and faster.

Economic development should be a three legged stool under which each of the legs is equally important. One leg is local government. Another leg is the developers with the property and resources to make development happen. (That’s why they’re called “developers.”) And the third leg should be the people, the families who

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