The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission held its first meeting on October 26 in Baltimore City. The Commission is a long-term advisory body set to look at land use and growth issues in the State. It replaces the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland which sunsets in December 2010. The Commission consists of 36 members and includes representatives from State and local governments, as well as key stakeholder areas including agriculture, builders, education, and the environment. Jon Laria, a partner at Ballard & Spahr LLP and former chair of the Task Force, serves as the Commission’s chair.
The Chair discussed the recent concept of “sustainable growth” and provided a brief history of land use in Maryland and the activities of the Task Force. He stressed that he wants the Commission to be “action-oriented” but also to cultivate an understanding of growth issues, including an exploration into the land use roles of State and local governments. He also stated that the Commission will strive for a consensus-based approach but given the group’s size, will not unanimity.
The Commission plans to take a tour of the Baltimore/Carroll County region on November 4th and hold its next meeting sometime in December, when it will review its draft work plan for 2011. The Commission will likely meet every other month, with various workgroups meeting in-between. MACo will remain an active participant with both the Commission and any workgroups it may form.
Commission Members introduced themselves and shared a priority that was important to them. Key priorities included:
- Develop long-term goals and short-term deliverables for the Commission
- Avoid, to the extent possible, narrowly focusing on the concerns of a member’s own constituency/stakeholder group
- Educate the public about Smart Growth and growth concepts
- Protect agriculture and the State’s rural heritage
- Redefine State involvement in land use decisions, including when State funding should be granted
- Stress more collaboration, both between local governments and local governments and the State
- Harmonize conflicting regulations/policies at both the State and local levels
- Understand the impact schools can have on growth
- Establish better connections between land use, transportation, and economic development
- Address water quality issues and the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load requirements
- Ensure a jobs/housing balance and the availability of a broad range of housing options
The Commission also received an introduction and tour of the Maryland Department of Planning’s website.
September 2 Conduit Street post on the Commission’s MACo and County members