Baltimore County and Howard County are the only two counties in the state that do not have incorporated areas. Incorporated areas handle many of the local government decisions, regulations, policing, education and planning that become too difficult to handle on a countywide scale.
Countywide governing reflects Towson and Baltimore County's rural roots. Today, we are seeing how this level of governance does not meet the demands of a growing, progressing and urbanizing Towson.
This is clearly evident in stalled progress, unclear visions of downtown Towson and inefficient negotiation and decision-making. Towson is basically an "indefinable entity" that is seeking to grow and become a regional destination, a la Frederick and Chevy Chase.
Right now, decisions for Towson's future are being made in an archaic, irresponsible and time-consuming manner. We have a councilman who is more concerned with appeasing the squeaky wheels than making decisions that will improve Towson's economic outlook and growth potential (examples: Towson Triangle and re-re-re-zoning Towson Circle).
In addition, a councilperson is required to look after a much larger area, which is a very ineffective approach to governing and meeting the demands of a town center and population such as Towson's.
We have neighborhood associations sitting down at the table to discuss growth and development (Harris Teeter). Is populace input vital to success? Absolutely. But isn't this why we have elected officials, like mayors, planning departments and municipal government?
There is no central voice addressing the future of Towson. Instead, we have stretched-to-thin councilmen, exceedingly powerful, unaffiliated neighborhood associations and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, which do a nice job, but would benefit from more central, long-term planning committed to Towson.
Towson is a relatively wealthy area that would be able to support itself based on current property taxes without the need to increase revenues. Incorporating Towson may lower the tax base for the rest of Baltimore County, but what Towson needs in order to progress efficiently is local government representation designed to fit the short- and long-term goals of the population and local economy.
Unfortunately, that does not exist in the 18th-century form of the government. Decisions in Essex, Perry Hall, White Marsh, Pikesville and Lansdowne should not be interfering with the decision process and decision makers trying to grow and improve Towson.
TowsonCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times