HYATTSVILLE – For Prince George’s County, resource conservation is all about bringing people together to help conserve the land and treasures for future generations and staying true to their message. With that, the county is seeking the public’s input on their new Resource Conservation Master Plan. At two meetings on Jan. 5 and 6, the […]
HYATTSVILLE – For Prince George’s County, resource conservation is all about bringing people together to help conserve the land and treasures for future generations and staying true to their message. With that, the county is seeking the public’s input on their new Resource Conservation Master Plan.
At two meetings on Jan. 5 and 6, the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Prince George’s Planning Department team, along with members of Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Sierra Club, hosted workshops for county residents to gain insight into the planning process and give feedback on what is most important to them in the plan.
Odessa Philip, a facilitator and emcee at the event, said the meetings are important because they put a local emphasis in the plan and help the developers focus on what means the most to the residents.
“The meetings are really important because they allow the community one, to understand how planners work, and two, to provide feedback on what’s of value and of importance to them. That way that element is properly intertwined into the final document,” she said. “So meetings like this are what really connect the community to the plan, to the planners.”
The Resource Conservation Master Plan will encompass elements of the updated Green Infrastructure Plan, which covers natural resources, an Agricultural Plan covering both urban and rural agricultural polices, and a combination of the Forest Preservation Act of 2013 and the county’s new Plan 2035 recommendations for a forest and tree canopy strategy. The plan, written by in-house staff with consultant support, will also focus on sustainable growth and cultural preservation.
Katina Shoulars, the supervisor of environmental planning, gave the presentation at the input meeting. She said the overall goal is to provide a platform for sustainability of the county’s environmental and cultural resources.
“The goal is to form this platform for sustainability and resilience through Plan 2035,” she said during the presentation. “Plan 2035 is the county’s general plan, which was recently approved last year. It’s actually a functional master plan for the county and provides recommendations, goals and strategies on all aspects of planning in the county.”
Phillips said the Resource Conservation Master Plan does not belong solely to M-NCPPC, but belongs to the county and “all of the people in it,” and will be created.
Adam Ortiz, the director of the county department of the environment, agreed and said the sustainability in the county highlights the connectedness of the county.
“We’re environmentalists here in this room. We’re activists, but everything we do in the environment isn’t just about the issue itself. It’s not just about endangered species. It’s not just about water. It’s not just about recycling by itself. It’s really about a bigger idea – it’s about connectedness,” he said.
Ortiz said sustainability is about connecting to the Earth, but also about connecting to each other through the way we live, travel and build and the decisions we make for the future. He said all the plans in place were created based on decisions made by generations before now.
“We’ve inherited those decisions. They have shaped how we travel, how we think, how we buy, where we work, how we live together and some of them are good and some of them have created challenges that we’re all struggling with,” Ortiz said. “Likewise, tonight, the decisions that we come to make will have implications to millions of people we’ll never know, we’ll never see, we’ll never meet, but they’ll live with the decisions we make.”
Otiz said the county government is not in charge of the conservation plan, but will carry out the rules, regulations and suggestions the M-NCPPC county’s planning department makes. He said the work on this plan is incredibly important because it will shape the future.
“This is really the big picture. Like, literally the picture and it’s up to folks who follow from this plan to make this picture a reality. So there’s no more important effort that’s going to set the tone than this one,” he said.
Le-Marie Thompson is the founder of Nettadonna, a start-up focused on sustainable product development. She said she came to the planning meeting to see what issues and challenges the county is facing when it comes to sustainability.
She said she liked the way the plans were laid out at the information sessions and the way the county brought the residents into the planning process.
“I like the way the different plans were broken down and people could write down their specific inputs as far as it comes to green infrastructure, when it comes to preservations, when it comes to agricultural,” Thompson said.
Thompson said she is concerned about the actual reach of the projects and hopes people who didn’t go to the meeting can still provide input.
Nick Orrick, the vice chairman of the county Sierra Club chapter’s executive committee, said he is happy the political environment in the county has changed in the last few decades and the county has become more receptive to input and to environmental causes.
“I would definitely encourage everybody to contact your local officials if you have issues you want to talk to them about. Although you may end up talking to their aides or whatever, they do keep track of what people say and they do have an effect on what the government does,” Orrick said at the meeting.
Ortiz emphasized the talks around the plan do not end when the meetings do and encouraged residents to reach out to the M-NCPPC Prince George’s Planning Department and the county’s department of the environment with further feedback.