Smart Growth in Maryland
Smart growth concentrates new development and redevelopment in areas that have existing or planned infrastructure to avoid sprawl. Smart growth is sustainable and is characterized by compact, transit-oriented, bicycle-friendly land use, with neighborhood schools, walkable streets, mixed-use development and a wide range of housing choices. Its purpose is to conserve valuable natural resources through the efficient use of land, water and air; foster economic development and job growth in towns and cities; expand transportation, employment, and housing choices; distribute the costs and benefits of development in an equitable manner; and promote public health.
Smart Growth has four straightforward goals:
- Support existing communities by targeting resources to support development in areas where infrastructure exists
- Save our most valuable natural resources before they are forever lost
- Save taxpayers from the high cost of building infrastructure to serve development that has spread far from our traditional population centers
- Provide Marylanders with a high quality of life, whether they choose to live in a rural community, suburb, small town, or city
Priority Funding Areas
Mapping of Priority Funding Areas, places best suited for growth based on public infrastructure and existing land uses.
In 2006, Marylanders across the state participated in an envisioning exercise called Reality Check Plus. The privately sponsored, day-long envisioning exercise designed to help regional leaders and organizations think collectively about how best to accommodate the future growth that will be coming to the state by the year 2030. In 2008, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland expanded on the effort by hosting a series of public forums throughout Maryland. More than 600 citizens, elected officials and community leaders attended these “Smart Growth Listening Sessions” were held at nine locations in every region in Maryland. They shared diverse public input on a variety of growth-related topics including smart, sustainable growth; historic preservation; transportation, and schools.
Tools for Local Governments
An online education course for members of planning and appeals boards. (Senate Bill 280 and House Bill 297 in the 2009 Session of the Maryland General Assembly requires members of a local jurisdiction’s planning board or commission and board of appeals to complete an education course on or before July 1, 2010.)
Maryland has been at the forefront of many policy innovations to improve access to affordable housing, create more transportation options and lower costs, while investing in cities, protecting the environment, and mitigating the effects of climate change. State agencies, the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development, local government agencies and a variety of stakeholders are working on a broad approach to apply the principles of Sustainable Communities in Maryland.
Current Legislative Priorities
- Six principles of Sustainable Communities
- Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 Summary
- SB 285-The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010
- SB 278-Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission
Smart, Green & Growing Legislation
- The Smart Growth Goals, Measures, and Indicators and Implementation of Planning Visions bill requires local planning commissions or boards to submit annual reports to local legislative bodies beginning July 1, 2011 to help measure our progress on Smart Growth.