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Commissioners candidate wants growth strategy

August 02, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A lifelong area resident, Washington County Commissioners candidate Frank Kretzer said he does not want to shut the door on people who plan to move to Washington County.

But, he said, he wants to put the brakes on what he calls "out-of-control growth."

"Is that what this county should evolve into? A place where people simply live or own property and don't contribute anything else to the community? No, I don't think so," said Kretzer, who lamented the boom of mega "rural sprawl" subdivisions throughout the county.

Kretzer, who describes himself as a conservative Democrat, is among 24 people - including 12 Democrats - running for County Commissioner. The primary election is Sept. 12; the general election is Nov. 7.

Kretzer, a retired correctional officer who works part time as a golf instructor at a driving range near Shepherdstown, W.Va., said he was motivated to run in the election because of his frustration over the rate of development in the county.

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"I just didn't think Washington County should end up looking like Gaithersburg (Md.) or Rockville (Md.) or whatever for the sake of profiteers," said Kretzer, who lives near Chewsville.

In a statement provided by Kretzer, he said the county could limit development by basing the number of permits it issues on a predetermined rate of acceptable growth. Residents who have lived in the county 10 years or more would get first dibs on new permits, and developers would get permits only after residents with less tenure had made their requests, Kretzer said.

"It's basically a manifest destiny situation, where people are being displaced by the rich who move in here, and I don't think that's right," he said.

The County Commissioners' decision earlier this year to send $150 rebate checks to homeowners also influenced Kretzer's decision to run, he said. He characterized the rebates as "feel-good" checks that might have been better spent.

"If there's that kind of money to give back, we could help out the elderly and maybe even the low-income folks, as well," Kretzer said.

The county and the school board need to be more fiscally responsible, he said.

"I think it's easy to do more with more, but it would be interesting to see if they could do more with less," Kretzer said.

The father of a 13-year-old boy and 20-year-old woman, Kretzer said he is committed to making Washington County better. That means fixing up the county's secondary roads and maintaining accountability for the Washington County Board of Education's spending, he said.

For Kretzer, it also means putting government - not developers - in the position to say what buildings go where.

"It's just kind of bizarre to plop down an instant town somewhere," he said.

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