the thing about Talbot County

….is that there’s no way there could ever be any one thing. The county, by it’s own nature, is plural, comprised of villages, towns and rural lands.

talbot county map

Easton. Oxford. Trappe. St. Michaels. Tilghman Island.

Neavitt. Bellevue.

Cordova.

Wittman, McDaniel.

Sherwood, Longwood, Tunis Mills.

Bozman. Royal Oak.

These places seem so self-evidently completely distinct.

What is it?

It’s funny. A tiny county – some 39,000 citizens at last count – and made up of so many distinct, wonderfully unique, villages and towns.

Yes, America, people DO still live in the same communities that were here a hundred years ago without needing to cram cheap new housing in big developments with modern floor plans, vinyl siding and plastic privacy fences.

Just yesterday, Barbara Haddaway of Claiborne was telling me about a 100-year-old woman who was raised in the village, and visits each year. She can point to each house on the street and name the people who lived there in the early 1900s. And Barbara, a geneology junkie, knows the history and the homesteads and the cemeteries of all of her ancestors in the region dating back to the 1600s.

But this area is growing, and if you look at the  population charts, it’s growing rapidly.

Yesterday’s Star Democrat announced movement forward on a development that will build 2500 new homes in Trappe, a town of 1077 residents at the 2010 census (there might be a paywall with the link). It seems that the plan has been in the works for a long time and that it is a welcome effort to help pay for an upgraded wastewater treatment plant. More homes will mean lower water and sewer rates for citizens.

Seems the developer pays for the town’s police chief, police car and pays the salary of the town’s planning officer. Surely that’s helping move things along.

But but but! Increasing population in one small town by over 200%, quadrupling the number of houses –  will do what else to this region, to this fragile environment? How will this affect our region’s impact on the Chesapeake Bay? What other pressures will this put on our infrastructure, our county’s feel and personality?

Well, it will certainly offer modern floorplans, vinyl siding and plastic privacy fences. Plenty of them.

This is one to watch.

~ by kbosin on April 2, 2013.

5 Responses to “the thing about Talbot County”

  1. Lancaster County PA, where I live, is said to have the most fertile non-irrigated land in the country. The population now is around 450,000. It is depressing to see housing developments replace beautiful productive farms. The US Census Bureau estimates the world population to be a bit over 7 billion, 19 of whom were personally added by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of Arkansas. The Duggars appear on TV frequently and are proud of their progeny. 19 kids among the Amish and Old Order Mennonites here in Lancaster County would not even raise an eyebrow, but the Duggars are more typical Americans and will undoubtedly require the use of more of the world’s resources– which is the crux of the population problem: not so much the gross number of people, but rather the amount of resources each person will use. No one knows what the consequences of having over 7 billion people on the earth will be because we have no precedent for it. The question raised regarding the increase of homes in Talbot County is really just a microcosm of a much larger issue.

    • Yes, it is a microcosm of the bigger picture. I read once that a child born in a first world country ends up being (these were their words) “30 times more of a disaster to the world” than a child born in a developing country, because they will be consumers. Sorry I don’t know who to cite there, but the notion that the social, environmental and economic costs associated with consumption at levels like we have now, is a disaster to the world – sounds about right.

      What’s especially interesting about our little microcosm, is that here on Delmarva, we haven’t grown to the levels of development all around us. Here in Bozman, I can see the milky way at night, and we’re only 30 minutes as the crow flies to the gigantic megalopolis. I too, watched Lancaster County grow to the giganticness it is today, and we’re just starting to see that here on the Shore. It’s like watching your kid get fat. You see him every day, so don’t notice much, but one day it hits you that he’s obese.

      I hope our county holds to sustainable growth goals – so far they are, but population migration and growth is very hard to direct and control, especially in areas like ours where new costs associated with water pollution cleanup are really pushing municipalities up against the wall.

      I’m worried we’re going to wake up one day and see that not only is the water completely polluted, but that our little floating peninsula has turned into one giant plastic toybox packed with cookie cutter development. Then we’ll be sure that our region is just like everywhere else. So much for “place”. Ugh.

      • I just looked around on the web and found a news article from 2011 announcing that Lancaster County had passed the 90,000 acre mark for preserved farmland and was on its way to becoming the first county in the nation to preserve 100,000 acres. So an effort is being made up here to save some of this valuable land, but unfortunately I think that effort is just one small bright spot in a very large dim picture.

        Waving dollars in front of a landowner is a time proven way to get him to re-arrange his priorities. I was once at party where I heard a big time local developer questioned about the wisdom of converting farmland into housing units. He answer was along the lines of “Well it was going to happen sooner or later, so I thought I may as well get into it sooner.” I jumped in and said, “So you’re saying if you saw an old lady walking alone at night wearing a diamond bracelet, you’d be the first to mug her because sooner or later someone else was bound to do it.” He shot me a look and walked away.

        There was an interesting show on TV the other night about the crumbling infrastructure in America and the fact that we don’t have the money to repair it. When I was working at my highway construction inspector job over the last five years, I got an up close look at some of it, especially the bridges. If the general public could see the corrosion and damage of the bridges they travel over every day, they would be outraged. I would take pictures and point out to my superiors different areas that needed attention and would be fairly easy and cheap to fix, but nothing ever came of it. We could only fix what we were assigned to fix and nothing more. The post WW II building frenzy seemed like a great Idea at the time, but the bill on the upkeep is now due and the money isn’t available. What a mess we’re in! If you think about this stuff for too long it’s good to re-watch that universe video you posted a bit ago and get a little distance from it!

  2. 2500 new homes in Trappe… Are there 2500 open job positions in Talbot/Dorchester/Caroline counties, or will these folks be commuting to jobs across the Bridge?

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