Early Bird Registration Open for New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Baltimore

October 30, 2014

New Partners for Smart Growth

The Local Government Commission (LGC) is hosting its 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel on January 29-31, 2015.  Optional pre- and post-conference events will be held on January 28 and February 1 respectively.  LGC is a nonprofit organization that assists local governments in addressing Smart Growth, sustainability, economic prosperity , and social equity issues.  From the conference web page:

There are many great reasons to attend the 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Baltimore, MD, especially if you are from Maryland or the Greater DC area.

Over the last 20 years, Baltimore has used a wealth of smart-growth and sustainability tools and policies to transform itself from primarily a major port and manufacturing center, into a multi-industry economy that promotes a built environment that is vibrant, walkable and livable focused on medicine, law, finance and health. These strategies ensured workers have a vibrant and interesting place to live, work and play.

There will be tons of smart-growth projects to see across the region, and 16 dynamic tours showcasing many of them, held in conjunction with the conference.

Baltimore communities like Station North, Masonville, Jones Falls Valley, Ellicott City, Catonsville and Towson will demonstrate smart growth in practice. Closer to Washington, DC, the Montgomery, Columbia Heights, and Prince George’s areas will showcase recent efforts to spur transit-oriented development and create vibrant, compact communities.

The New Partners for Smart Growth Conference will explore some of these great success stories from throughout Baltimore and Maryland as well as practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the rest of the nation. For more details on the tours, please visit our Tours Page.

The conference program will feature some great case studies from the region, including the challenges as well as some inspirational success stories. There will be case studies and best practices from across the country that will provide great examples of how other communities are tackling the same issues, including theirs successes and lessons-learned. For more details on the program, please visit our Program Page.

This not-to-be-missed national conference also includes other exciting special features and optional workshops, with new special events and networking activities to be added soon! For more details on special features and optional workshops, please visit our Special Features Page.

Conference Brochure

Datesaver Postcard

The “early bird” registration rate for all three days is $350 for public and nonprofit representatives and closes on November 10.  Discounts for groups or joining LGC may also apply.

For further information about the conference and to register, click here.

Article Explores How Local Food Programs Can Benefit Both Community and Business

October 30, 2014

An October 29 Sustainable Communities article explored how counties and municipalities are strengthening communities, resiliency, and food producers and suppliers by supporting local food networks.  The article discussed how local food systems can build local capital and respond to the increasing numbers of “locavores” – people who attempt “to eat food produced within a 100-mile radius.”

“You can bring some revitalization to your communities through local food systems,” [North Carolina State University professor and Center for Environmental Farming Systems Director Nancy] Creamer said. “And from a national perspective, as we face droughts and floods and climate issues, keeping our food supply diverse and spread out across the country is really important.”

The article also highlighted a variety of local food initiatives from North Carolina:

Eastern Carolina Organics, based in Durham, N.C., is a grower’s cooperative or “food hub,” which aggregates, distributes and markets farm products that are produced regionally or locally, so they can be purchased from wholesale or retail or institutional markets. Started in 2005 with a $48,000 Tobacco Trust Fund grant, it has grown to more than 70 growers, 130 customers, five staff and $2.7 million in sales from a 26,000-square-foot warehouse.

“Small-scale farms often don’t have the volume or continuity of products to be able to carry large-scale accounts, so they come together in food hubs,” [Community Food Strategies program lead Christi] Shi Day said.

The Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative is an example of community-supported agriculture, or CSA.

“People in the community buy a subscription at the beginning of the season and the farmer delivers a share of the harvest,” Shi Day said.

Incubated by Cooperative Extension in Moore County, N.C., Sandhills drew 3.5 percent of the local population to subscribe in its second year. Its community impact also has been impressive – 38,000 volunteer hours to deliver the food, which raised funds for a variety of local causes; more than three tons of produce donated to neighbors; 22,000 boxes delivered to more than 1,500 members; $320,000 to family farmers and artisans, and $40,000 contributed to community schools, churches and organizations for hosting a gathering site.

Core Sound Seafood on Harkers Island, N.C., is a community-supported fishery (CSF). The group buys from other fishermen in the community, assembles “shares” (four pounds of fish from two species per week over 10 weeks) and sends them to subscribers. Direct sales – as with farmers’ markets – results in more money to producers. In 2012, the prices averaged $450 per share ($225 per half share), or $11.25 per pound. The fish are caught, cleaned and filleted within 48 hours of delivery, and shareholders receive information about who caught the fish and how, photos and stories from the coast, and recipes.

Slow Money North Carolina provides peer-to-peer lending to finance small businesses. Loans are made at very modest rates of interest, typically 2-5 percent. As of December 2012, more than 60 loans were made to more than 30 Slow Money North Carolina food entrepreneurs and/or local food businesses around the state, totaling more than $600,000. Nationally, $35 million has been invested in more than 300 small food enterprises around the United States through 19 local Slow Money chapters and 10 investment clubs.

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 uavin@umd.edu

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


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