When Washington County Commissioner Jim Wade told Keedysville residents who want their area to remain rural to push for some "teeth" in the zoning laws, he made it sound as easy as going to the dentist for a set of false choppers. It won't be.
The first step will be a rewrite of the county's comprehensive plan. With all the public hearings, that could take a year or more. Only then can the commissioners begin a comprehensive rezoning of the county. Even at that point, tightening up the rules governing agricultural zoning will be tough.
Why is that? Because, as Del. Anita Stup said during a recent legislative preview meeting, when a farmer wants to leave the land - either because his children don't want to farm or because it's too difficult to turn a profit - developers offer the best land prices. Farm preservation is in the state's interest, she said, because if development supplants farms, taxpayers will be faced with additional costs - for schools, roads and other services.