Partnership Leverages UMD Faculty & Students To Help Solve Local Government Policy Challenges; Currently Seeks County RFPs

October 24, 2014

The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) is an organization that offers local governments the assistance and technical expertise of University of Maryland faculty and students to address local sustainability issues related to business and economic development, land use, the environment, or social needs.  Counties and municipalities may submit a request for proposal (RFP) to PALS and if accepted, PALS and the University will create a series of coursework and projects built around the local government’s issue(s).

PALs Informational Flyer

PALS is currently seeking local government RFPs for the 2015/2016 term.  Proposals are due November 24.  From the PALS RFP Request Packet:

The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), administered by the National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD), invites proposals from Maryland jurisdictions interested in partnering with the University in a program that pairs the sustainability-related projects of a local government with experienced faculty and courses from across the University of Maryland campus. The successful applicant will benefit from between 40,000 and 60,000 hours of work by UMD students and faculty from a variety of disciplines. The core of this request for proposals is the development of an annotated list of projects by the jurisdiction that aim to enhance a community’s quality of life, protect is resources and develop sustainable practices.

RFP Issue Date: October 20th, 2014

Pre-bid Meeting (call-ins allowed): November 5th, 10AM–11AM @ NCSG

Proposal Due Date 3:00 PM, November 24th, 2014 via e-mail (Electronic submission only): to

Notification of Interviews: December 1st, 2014

Interviews with top candidates: December 8th, 2014

Selection and notification: December 15th, 2014

Start of PALS process: January 5th, 2015

Beginning of Fall PALS courses: August 31st, 2015

For the 2014/2015 tern, PALS partnered with Frederick City to address a variety of City issues, such as: composting and organics recovery, a recreation plan for its waterways, promoting local businesses, and East Frederick industrial redevelopment.  Through PALS, the University is offering 30 courses involving 350 students drawn from 10 schools across the College Park campus to address Frederick City’s sustainability challenges.

PALS 2014/2015 Frederick Trifold

Agriculture Commission Works With MACo & Counties on Agritourism, Other Farming Issues

October 24, 2014

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Earl “Buddy” Hance thanked MACo representatives and the counties for working with the Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission on Agriculture (GICA) on agritourism and other agricultural issues at GICA’s October 23rd meeting.  Through MACo, Secretary Hance and other Department employees have been meeting with county planners and health officers to discuss  agritourism, food permitting, and zoning issues.

GICA was formed in 2006 and is composed of representatives from State agencies, local governments, and the agricultural sector.  GICA works to identify and address issues important to the agricultural industry, coordinate State, local, and private sector efforts to promote agricultural businesses.  Currently, Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier and Kent County Planner Amy Moredock are MACo’s two representatives on GICA.  MACo Legal and Policy Director Les Knapp also attends GICA meetings.

At its October 23rd meeting, GICA considered: (1) a model definition of agritourism that could be used by the counties; (2) a model checklist to help potential agritourism operators navigate state and local requirements; and (3) a short list of recommendations, such as asking counties without Agricultural Marketing Professionals (AMPs) to designate an “ombudsman” for agritourism purposes.  GICA will likely adopt some version of the definition, checklist, and recommendations in the next several weeks.

GICA also heard presentations on: (1)  State and local permitting and zoning issues related to farms providing housing for federal H2A temporary foreign agricultural workers; (2) the Agritourism Signage Program; and (3) the Department of Business and Economic Development’s Office of Tourism. County sampling licenses for farmers were also discussed.

Baltimore County To Acquire Contested 258 Acre Megachurch Property For Open Space

October 22, 2014

An October 20 Baltimore Sun article reported that Baltimore County has approved a $3 million to purchase a 258 acre tract of undeveloped land in the rural community of Granite from the Bethel AME Church.  The article noted that Bethel had wanted to use the site for a new megachurch but was challenged by rural neighbors who claimed a megachurch was not in keeping with Granite’s rural character.  Both the State and the County are contributing to the $3 million purchase price.  From the article:

The state’s portion, which comes from Program Open Space, will be $1,882,500, the average of the two appraisals. The county’s portion, $1,117,500, will be used to release a lien on the property.  …

Democratic Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver, who represents the area, said the sale of the property works out well for all parties: the church, the neighbors and the county.  …

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz backed the purchase of the property, funds for which were included in this year’s county budget.

“From an environmental perspective, this parcel is particularly beneficial to preserve as open space due to its large size and varied terrain featuring steep slopes, forest and streams,” Kamenetz said in a statement.

The property will be used as “passive recreation,” which may include activities such as walking and bird-watching. After the purchase is finalized, the county plans to seek feedback on how to use the property.

The article also noted that the purchase price was approximately $1 million more than the appraised value of the land but that all involved parties felt that the final negotiated price represented a fair deal to the County.

New NACo Report – Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action

October 16, 2014

The National Association of Counties (NACo), has recently released a new report, Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action, which highlights how “America’s large urban counties are joining forces with private-sector firms to improve government operations, generate new solutions and reap valuable cost savings”.

counties_inactionFrom NACo’s website:

Large urban county governments provide essential services to more than 130 million residents each day, spanning from transportation and infrastructure to public safety and public health.  In an era of increasingly limited funding, an ever-growing demand for public services and a strong imperative for efficiency and transparency in government, counties are collaborating more than ever with the private sector to better deliver essential services to keep our communities healthy, safe and thriving.

The report features 11 case studies, reaching across sectors such as technology, health care and infrastructure development.  For example:

  • To engage residents in a two-way conversation and provide timely responses to pressing needs, the City and County of San Francisco worked with SalesForce to coordinate social media platforms, resulting in greater government transparency, better responsiveness to community issues and enhanced quality and efficiency of government services;
  • Broward County, Fla., contracted with a professional services firm, Parsons, to manage a complex runway expansion and terminal reconfiguration project at the county-owned Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, enabling better process coordination and workflow procedures for this massive infrastructure project;
  • With support from PayPal, Cobb County, Ga., upgraded the county’s tax collection services to enable electronic payment, records keeping and mobile payment, thus improving processing speeds, streamlining operations and creating safer work environments for county employees;
  • Allegheny County, Pa., moved its civil commitment records from a paper-based to web-based system by adapting an application developed by Thomson Reuters, which has increased the accuracy and availability of time-sensitive information, saved money and reduced burdens on staff time; and
  • Salt Lake County, Utah, formed a collaborative partnership with Optum Health to redesign the county’s approach to behavioral health care delivery and improve care coordination and outcomes to promote and sustain wellness and reduce recidivism.

County leaders are faced with both challenges and opportunities to sustain responsive and effective solutions and services.  Together with private sector partners, county leaders are making important breakthroughs in advancing exemplary models of government innovation to create more agile, competitive and economically resilient counties and communities.

Click here to read NACo’s report – Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action.

Reinvest Maryland (Formerly IRR) Report Released

October 10, 2014

logo of Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission

An October 6 Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission press release announced the released of the Commission’s Reinvest Maryland Report.  Formerly known as the Infill, Redevelopment, and Revitalization (IRR) Policy, the Reinvest Maryland report includes over 60 recommendations to encourage IRR within a subset of the Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) and discourage new development outside of the PFAs.  From the press release:

In response to a request from Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission has produced Reinvest Maryland: Accelerating Infill, Redevelopment & Community Revitalization. The just-released report sets forth dozens of recommendations to help communities across Maryland improve their downtowns, strengthen their economies, add needed housing and even provide a streetscape facelift.  …

Directing growth to communities with existing infrastructure saves money by requiring fewer services, unlike development in far-flung areas that need new roads, schools, and water and sewer systems. It improves quality of life for existing residents. Moreover, many young people, seniors and business owners are demanding well-designed, walkable communities as a new model over traditional, more isolating growth patterns.

“We need to reinvest in Maryland’s great communities,” said Commission Chairman Jon Laria. “In this report, we set out recommendations to help us grow smarter to accomplish a whole host of goals statewide.”

Reinvest Maryland Report – Fast Download Version (4 MB)

Reinvest Maryland Report – Full Resolution Version (22 MB)

Reinvest Maryland Report Appendices

Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall provided a brief overview of the Reinvest Maryland report at MACo’s Administrator and Attorney Conference on October 9.  Hall explained that the recommendations were broken down into 8 categories:

  1. Establish a Vision for Reinvestment
  2. Create and Better Fund Innovative, Effective Reinvestment Programs
  3. Identify and Address Regulations and Policies That May Impede Reinvestment
  4. Deploy Targeted Financial Tools
  5. Promote Equitable Development
  6. Encourage Excellence in Community Design and Preservation
  7. Use Metrics to Gauge Success and Provide Accountability
  8. Accelerate Transit-Oriented Development

Hall stated the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and other involved state agencies will use the Reinvest Maryland report as a blueprint and begin implementing its various recommendations over the next several years.

MDP Presentation for MACo’s Administrators & Attorneys Conference

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Reinvest Maryland/IRR Policy

CDN Seeking Community Development Award of Excellence Nominees Through October 9

October 6, 2014

The Community Development Network of Maryland (CDN) is still seeking nominations for its Community Development Award of Excellence through the close of business on October 9.  From CDN’s email notice:

Each year CDN honors organizations around the state engaging in extraordinary community development work. Our Awards of Excellence highlight organizations that make great social and economic impact in their work every day. Please take time to nominate your organization or another organization (or as many as you would like!) for an Award of Excellence. Selections will be announced during our Annual Meeting on November 7!  …

Awards are given to organizations showing excellence in the following categories:

Innovation: The nominated entity has implemented a practice that reflects a new way of thinking about the problem to be solved. We are looking for non-conventional approaches that are innovative within the context of entity size and geographic area. The work should have begun within the last five years. (Last year’s award was given to Patriot’s House, developed by Anne Arundel Community Development Services, Inc.)

Collaboration: The nominated entity has engaged in a collaboration that creatively connects groups within the community development field. We will highlight distinctive, creative collaborations where the entity, working with one or more partners, has created new connections among organizations that were not previously connected. The collaborative effort should have taken place within the last five years. (Last year’s award was given to Prince George’s County Collaboration of Municipalities)

Lorraine Sheehan Memorial Advocacy Award: The nominated entity has played a significant role in making community revitalization possible at the local or statewide level. (Last year’s award was given to Delegate Stephen Lafferty (D-42)).

Legacy: The nominated entity or person/people has continually exhibited excellence in his or her field. (Last year’s award was given to Edward Mullaney, Cumberland Main Street).

Click here to submit nominations.

CDN was formerly known as the Maryland ABCD Network.  Its mission is to engage and strengthen Maryland’s community development industry and encourage comprehensive community development.

Charles County Commissioners Send Draft Comp Plan Back to Planning Commission

September 29, 2014

A September 24 SoMdNews article reported that the Charles County Board of County Commissioners has voted unanimously to send the County’s draft comprehensive plan back to its planning commission with instructions to make certain changes regarding the plan’s septic tier map, agricultural policy, and water resources element .  The article indicated that the move will likely add another year to the County’s comprehensive plan update process.

Planning staff previously presented a revised version of the comprehensive plan including the tier map, agricultural policy recommendations, a land use map adjusted to match the septic tiers and updated data for the plan’s required water resources element.  …

Charles County Assistant County Attorney Elizabeth Theobalds said the commissioners had four options — send the plan back and direct the planning commission to make the recommended changes, send the plan back without such instructions, bypass the planning commission and approve the plan with the proposed changes or adopt the plan as it was passed by the planning board in November 2012.

Theobalds noted that the third option “does not meet what I interpret to be the law,” as the proposed changes to the comprehensive plan were too “significant” for the commissioners to approve without first returning the plan to the planning board.

The article noted that after some debate about the legality of the third and fourth options, the commissioners voted for the first option.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,477 other followers