Trying to Achieve Consensus in Charles County

Charles County has been working to complete a revision to its comprehensive plan for the last year and adopt a tier map which will determine where major subdivisions may be developed. Things have become very contentious. In January, three members of the five-member Board of County Commissioners voted to appoint a six-member workgroup to make a recommendation on the tier map and on changes to the comprehensive plan. I was asked to serve.

Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried. Governing ourselves, with our guaranteed freedoms and regulatory checks and balances, is tough!

So how do governments come up with a ‘Systematic Development of Informed Consent’? This is a phrase used by Hans and Ann Marie Bleiker who have spent their lives perfecting citizen participation strategies. They are the best in the business and have identified over 60 techniques to help governments develop informed consent. Many of these techniques were employed in Charles County by the planning consultant, the staff, the Planning Commission, and the Commissioners during the process.

I don’t recall whether or not a six-member working group is on that list. We will see whether or not it should be. It has been an interesting experiment, and an honest attempt at compromise by the workgroup. We make our presentation to the Commissioners on Tuesday.

Read here for a thorough article with more information on the progress so far.

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