Planning and development policies affect everything from affordable housing to zoning. Yet, planning and development are among the most overlooked topics in local news coverage. It’s not hard to understand why; a boring process story about septic riser legislation is hardly likely to get anyone’s pulse pounding. But if you really want to understand what’s driving change in your community, and why, the place to start looking is usually the planning department.
I am Paul Lagasse, a freelance journalist based in La Plata, Charles County, Maryland. I covered the county government beat for the Maryland Independent, which included covering open meetings (and sometimes the closed ones, too) of the Board of County Commissioners, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Appeals, as well as criss-crossing the county talking with elected officials, county government staff, developers, property owners, and residents asking serious questions and pushing for serious answers about big issues like:
- Development in the Watershed Conservation District
- Broadband internet services in rural Charles County
- Zoning issues impacting the development of the Maryland Airport
- Affordable housing and housing-insecure residents
- Code changes affecting agricultural property
- Dominion’s proposed natural gas compressor station
- The fight over a proposed solar farm installation
- Economic revitalization along Old Washington Road and the Waldorf Gateway
- … and many more important topics
I’m one of those oddball reporters who actually gets really excited about planning and development issues. The thing is, I’m also pretty good at convincing my readers that they should get excited about them, too.
Though I am no longer with the paper, I have maintained a strong interest in the county’s complex and dynamic planning and development issues, and I established The Lagasse Report to fill what I saw as a crucial gap in local news coverage of issues that affects the lives of Charles County’s residents every day — often without them even knowing about it.
Questions? Tips? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube at right.