Farmers’ Tractorcade Protests Cecil County Commissioners ‘Tier’ Maps, Property Rights Limits

August 22, 2012

Tractors on political parade

About 20 tractors, in classic John Deere green and a few blue Fords, formed a political conga line on Route 40 Tuesday afternoon and circled the Cecil County administration building in Elkton, to protest a map adopted by a majority of County Commissioners that would sharply limit many farmers’ property rights.

It was the second consecutive day of repudiation for a so-called “tier” map adopted earlier this month by the Three Amigos faction of the Cecil County Commissioners—Diana Broomell (R-4), James Mullin (R-1) and Michael Dunn (R-3.) On Monday, the county Planning Commission rejected that proposal and instead will develop its own map, based upon the county’s Comprehensive Plan, that would still protect farm and rural areas from development but would not impose more restrictive limits advocated by the Three Amigos.

The tractorcade assembled at the old Wal-Mart site at Whitehall Road and proceeded east on Route 40, accompanied by Elkton town police and county Sheriff’s cars with flashing lights. Traffic was not delayed much as the single-file tractorcade occupied the right lane so motorists could pass. But Chesapeake Boulevard had a long backup as the tractors moved slowly toward the county building and began their circuit around the building.

County Commissioners were inside the county office building, holding a ‘citizens’ corner’ informal comment session that precedes the regular bi-weekly commissioners’ business meeting. But the tractorcade was clearly visible through the meeting room windows, and after farmers parked their vehicles, they came into the commissioners’ meeting room to give them an earful.

Broomell sat in silence, with a pained expression, as speaker after speaker excoriated the tiers proposal of which she has been the chief draftsman. Even one of her strongest political allies, Valerie Falcioni—appointed at Broomell’s behest to the county Ethics Commission—opposed the tiers map. “We have got to fight with all our might,” she said, against efforts to deprive citizens of their property rights. And she said it was “reprehensible” that property owners had not been specifically notified that their land was affected before the tiers map was adopted by the county commissioners.

Commissioners Robert Hodge (R-5) and Tari Moore (R-2) opposed the map endorsed by the Three Amigos faction. But that map, along with the Planning Commission draft, is slated for a public hearing in September. Changes could still be made before a final tiers plan is sent to the state by the end of the year.

The “tiers” concept ranks properties in four categories ranging from Tier 1—urbanized or town areas that are already or will be developed, with access to public water and sewer service—to Tier 4, the most restrictive category for rural and farm areas in which little if any development could occur. Tier 2 is a transitional area from the most developed Tier 1 areas while Tier 3 is a transitional area with limited development leading up to the no growth Tier 4.

Legislation passed by the General Assembly this year set up the four-tier categories but watered down many of the provisions that had been advocated by Gov. Martin O’Malley as part of his broad “Plan Maryland” initiative to limit development to protect the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, counties must submit a map outlining their tiers areas– but the state government does not have the authority to re-draw the map lines or impose direct sanctions if the map is less restrictive than state planners think it should be.

The lack of state clout over the tiers maps was reiterated last week at an informal meeting of the Cecil County Commissioners, at which two representatives of the state Department of Planning questioned even the aggressively anti-growth map supported by the Three Amigos. But the state officials conceded they were powerless to force the county to yield to their demands.

“So you say Cecil County is a bad boy,” Hodge told the state officials, indicating he was not particularly worried about such a label.

However, implicit in the state program is the threat of withholding grant funds from projects that are deemed in violation of the Plan Maryland goals.

For the tractorcade folks appearing before the Commissioners on Tuesday, the key points of contention are the shift of many transitional Tier 3 areas, as provided in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, into the most restrictive Tier 4 category. The farmers argued that the county should adopt the least restrictive interpretation because otherwise, the state would have ammunition to use against landowners seeking permits or other regulatory review of their lands.

Several speakers questioned why some Commissioners were seemingly doing the state’s dirty work when they did not have to do so.

Paula Gilley, a Realtor who also served on the county’s Comprehensive Plan review panel several years ago, said the tiers proposal amounted to “stealing” people’s land, without paying for it. She questioned why the Amigos’ map had “significantly more Tier 4” lands than the comprehensive plan identified as non-growth areas to be protected.

Wayne Stafford, president of the county Farm Bureau who organized the tractorcade protest, said the farmers were “just trying to make a statement.” He said the state Farm Bureau had “opposed tier mapping from the start” and that the county should “do the minimum that we can” and should have the tiers map reflect the existing comprehensive plan but no more.

He also warned that there would be a “snowball effect” if the commissioners went beyond the comprehensive plan and that in the future, citizens would be unwilling to serve on the citizens’ panel that drafted the comprehensive plan if their hard work was going to be ignored by a majority vote of three commissioners.

“If the Commissioners want to stand up to the state, we’ll stand with you,” Stafford said. “Do the minimum that the state requires and we’ll back you up on that.”

One of the problems facing farmers is that if their land is placed in Tier 4 its value will diminish, thus providing a lower collateral value if they are seeking loans to buy new equipment to keep their farms in productive operation.

Don Moore, of North East, said “stealing farmers’ property rights is not the answer” to keeping farm areas rural. Especially with the poor economy and drought conditions, “now is not the time to rob equity out of their land,” he said.

Bill Kreeger, of Rising Sun, said, “All my blood, sweat and my youth” is invested in his farm and he resented commissioners devaluing his land without offering any financial compensation. “You offer nothing in return for what I’ve spent my life doing,” he said.

Holly Willis, of North East, said she hoped to pass her farm on to the next generation of her family but the Tier 4 category would equate her land with “parkland” and other public lands owned by government. “You need to re-think your ideas,” she told the commissioners. “Do the minimum; don’t hurt us.”

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15 Responses to Farmers’ Tractorcade Protests Cecil County Commissioners ‘Tier’ Maps, Property Rights Limits

  1. Rick O'Shea on August 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Another “special interest group” (SIG) rises to oppose Commissioner Broomell’s attempts to control Cecil County. The farmer’s “special interest” is survival. If Broomell and her lackeys Mullin and Dunn were interested in the county they would not have caused Artesian to abandon the wastewater contract, which would have provided services in the growth corridor and made commercial development possible.

  2. Tidewater on August 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Our government has been stealing everyone’s property rights for a long time and now its your turn. I feel your pain.

    But, why not stand up for the protection of everyone’s individual property rights? What makes you so special?

    I have also put my blood,sweat and youth into paying off my non farm property and still have to pay “rent” to the government in the form of property taxes. That means I have NEVER really owned the land my house sits on and unless we all have a radical change of attitude toward government at all levels and fast, none of us will ever own anything again eventually.

    You looked good on those tractors going down Rout 40, but you forgot tar, feathers and pitch forks!

    • Rick O'Shea on August 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Tidewater Ted,

      You don’t appear as a property owner on the tax rolls of Cecil County. You must live on Smipkin Island. I think that the farmers brought attention to the issue, thereby fighting for all. Left unsaid is the deception practiced by Broomell and Mullin. Dunn as usual is a tag-along.

    • Ron Lobos on August 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Tidewater, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but I really would like to see you at the commissioners meeting on Sept. 4th in opposition to SB236. Actions speak much louder than words. I will be there in opposition to this unconstitutional bill.

      The greatest thing that you can do would be to talk to Commissioner Dunn. I know that he is a very close friend of yours. Please talk some sense into him. Right now, Broomell, Mullin and Dunn have now idea how much of a negative impact they are about to place on the farmers. Please join us in an attempt to wake them up.

  3. Tidewater on August 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Ron and Rick,

    You are wasting your time begging for crumbs from these government whores. I would like to see you spend less time in front of them and more time plotting their demise.

    What have you done for liberty today? There will be a test on election day.

    Not Ted, but he sure sounds like a great person.

    • Jackie on August 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Actually, Ted has been very busy this summer, planning “sustainable communities” in Delaware, so no wonder he hasn’t had time to speak out against the violation of property rights that his friends Mullin and Dunn are proposing.

      Ted was the team leader for planning the Elsmere community. Ted has chosen to push “sustainable development” as his life’s work ( On the summary document for the Elsemere workshop, sustainability is explained: “This may include sustainability aspects relating to REPRODUCTION, water, transportation, energy, waste, and materials.” It also explains that people need to be “cultivated and developed to support the recommendations suggested at the conclusion of the project.” “Sustainable Development” is the antithesis of what Campaign for Liberty, which Ted claims to be aligned with, supports.

      Some Republicans are great at giving speeches or blogging about property rights, but when there is an opportunity to actually stand up for these principles where they could have an impact, they are nowhere to be found. That’s because giving a speech can score political points among those who support liberty, but when push comes to shove their “smart growth” agenda trumps any real belief in the principle of private property. They hope that when they campaign for election/re-election, people will listen to what they say and not what they have/have not done, but the choice to speak or remain silent on the tier map will be remembered when they ask for votes again.

      • Rick O'Shea on August 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

        Is this the same Theodore A Patterson who serves as the Maryland State Co-Ordinator for the Campaign for Liberty? “Sustainability aspects relating to reproduction” sounds like Chinese Communist forced family planning, which includes compelled abortion of female “fetuses” and limiting total family size. “People need to be cultivated and developed” has an Orwellian ring that sounds a lot like “brainwashing.” Is he posing as a Libertarian while pursuing a career in Big Government?

  4. scott on August 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Questions: don’t farmers get paid to plant cover crop (flush tax); don’t farmers pay less property tax than non-farmers; don’t farmers pay no fuel tax(off-road diesel); don’t farmers get to drive same vehicles on public roads without paying registration, emissions, inspection, insurance, title, etc, fees? Don’t farmers get discounts on taxs and loans?

    Why would you need a loan for more than your property is worth? Why do farmers get all these discounts? The farm lobby is one answer. Is it to insure our food supply?

    No one is devaluating farm land, they are devaulating someone who wants to sell out of the farming business to a developer. Kinda puts a hurtin’ on poor ol’ farmer thing? Just asking.

  5. Tidewater on August 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Some Farmers ‘Will Make More Money’ in Drought

    “In fact, some farmers will make more money this year having crop insurance than they would have if there was a normal yield because we planted so many corn acres,” Rabobank’s Sterling Liddell said. “Livestock producers, on the other hand — this is potentially explosive for them.” (Read More: Breakfast in America: The Real Cost of Corn.) Article: Some Farmers ‘Will Make More Money’ in Drought

    The longer I live the more it seems, liberals lie and conservatives don’t read.

    • Rick O'Shea on August 30, 2012 at 7:11 am

      Tedwater, this post is confusing. You must have lost it when Ron Paul announced his retirement. Are you: anti-farmer? anti-corn? pro-livestock producer? I read your Town of Elsmere report on Sustainable development. You must be reading Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

      • Tidewater on August 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Gee Rick

        Why am I not shocked that you are so confused.

        So Ted’s getting back some of the money that’s been stolen from him by government. Big (insert Biden word)deal.

        Progressives have made a mess of most towns in America. Why shouldn’t a customer be allowed to buy whatever they want and why can’t someone sell it to them?

        Just because someone may not like chicken sandwiches, does that mean something is wrong with selling fillets to those who want to spend money on them?

        Cecilton wants section 8 housing, why shouldn’t someone earn some of their stolen tax dollars back selling them bricks?

        I guess you’ll also howl when Ted decides to collect his Social Security checks.

        Not Ted, but he sounds like a really great American.

        • Rick O'Shea on August 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm

          Seek help before it is too late. In the interim, move to Elsmere. Tidewater Ted Patterson will plan for you, Ted.

        • Jackie on August 31, 2012 at 12:09 am

          “Smart growth” is a progressive movement based on collectivism and marxism. Since you justify Ted’s involvement in promoting this agenda to the public because he is getting paid by the government to do it, would you put him in the same category as those “government whores” you reference above?

          • Tidewater on September 1, 2012 at 8:55 am


          • Rick O'Shea on September 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm

            More like a “Madam”. An Administrator, as it were.

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