Sunday, January 28, 2007

Scary BRAC story in Saturday's Baltimore Sun

Strained water supplies, snarled traffic, housing sprawl and a plague of locusts -- this is what BRAC will bring according to a report released by state planners last week and detailed in a Baltimore Sun story Saturday. Ok. I'm kidding about the locusts. But it sounds a bit like Armageddon, nonetheless. And to think, we were so delighted not so long ago when the military announced our bases would be staying open and drawing thousands of new jobs to the area. Now, the trouble is, where are we going to put all these folks? According to a little chart that ran with the front page story, Harford County will be getting an additional 6,533 households as a result of BRAC -- more than any other Maryland county. According to the Sun story:

"The price tag to taxpayers is likely to run into billions of dollars."

But for Harford County, the story gets even more bleak:

"Families moving to Harford to take base-related jobs could buy up more than two-thirds of the high-quality housing expected to be built or for sale in the county's designated growth area, the plan cautions. But the county's plans to concentrate those new households could be foiled by lack of infrastructure, the report cautions.

"Harford and its municipalities face water-supply limits or shortages, the report says. Bel Air's water capacity is inadequate, planners say, and they warn that Aberdeen's plans to solve its looming supply crunch by desalinating Chesapeake Bay water might not get approved and completed before new workers and their families start arriving.

"The report says there is "an increased urgency for plans and actions now" to finance and build new water-supply and sewage treatment capacity, highway and transit improvements and classroom space."
The story says that Harford County Executive David R. Craig plans to unveil an "action plan" for coping with base-related growth Monday. I'll keep an eye out for that. But in the meantime, it has me thinking a plague of locusts would be the least of our problems.

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