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ESLC Releases Results of Latest Public Opinion Poll

Eastern Shore Residents Concerned about Sprawl, Growth
Latest Public Opinion Poll Results Released

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a private, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of farmland and habitat on the Eastern Shore today announced the results of a poll indicating growth, development and sprawl continue to be a top concern for Eastern Shore residents.

The land use poll, conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research, Inc. late this summer, surveyed 1,500 Eastern Shore residents regarding growth and development, local funding priorities, transportation, conservation needs and factors affecting their quality of life.

The poll indicates that residents feel the single most important problem facing the Eastern Shore is growth, development and sprawl. This is followed by a 2:1 margin by a tie between jobs/economy and the environment/community. This number of residents most concerned about growth and development issues is highest in Queen Anne’s and Talbot.

“This poll tells us that growth issues continue to be a top concern of Eastern Shore residents and that the public is looking to local elected officials for solutions ,” said Amy Owsley, ESLC’s Director of Land Use Planning.

Earlier this year ESLC engaged Susquehanna Polling and Research to survey registered voters in six counties of the Eastern Shore: Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. A total of 1,200 registered voters (plus an additional over sampling in Caroline, Dorchester and Kent ) were interviewed by telephone, from August 25 – September 2. The margin of error for the regional poll is +/- 2.8 percent.

ESLC conducted a similar poll in 2004 and the results from the most recent poll iterate many of the same findings.

The top headlines from the 2008 survey are:

» Pace of Growth: Due to the rapid rate of development and its impact on the loss of farmland and habitat, people are feeling anxious about growth on the Eastern Shore. Growth, development and sprawl were cited as the single most important issue facing respondents’ local area.

» Quality of Life: More residents than ever believe things are going in the wrong direction in the Eastern Shore today, some 43 percent compared to 35 percent in 2004 – which means voters are not happy with the status quo; and although most voters believe their quality of life is excellent or good and has not worsened during the last several years, an overwhelming majority (62 percent) are very concerned about the loss and farmland and habitat on the Eastern Shore.

» Elected Officials: Eastern Shore residents reaffirm the role that both local and county governments play in open space preservation including the protection of wildlife and habitat areas – including the continued use of public funding for open space preservation. By a 71/4 margin, residents believe local officials should increase their efforts to preserve open space. This is a slight increase from 65 percent in 2004.

» Funding Priorities: Residents also support their county’s use of public funds for open space preservation, recreation and the protection of natural wildlife habitats in towns, villages and rural areas at a margin of 5:1 – up from 3:1 in the 2004 poll. Among those that support county funding, more than a third (38 percent) would pay up to fifty dollars.

» Towns and Villages: By a 65/27 margin (or better than 2:1) residents support policies designed to encourage new development in and around existing towns and villages and discourage development in the countryside.

“Both our 2004 and this recent poll tell us quite clearly that the Eastern Shore public wants more land protection, better managed growth, and for our important farming tradition to be protected,” said Rob Etgen, ESLC’s Executive Director. “It is obvious that we must do more to protect the Eastern Shore way of life and rural heritage that we all love.”

For more information about the 2008 survey and to obtain a copy of the survey report, please visit www.eslc.org.

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