A Look At PlanMaryland: What is GrowthPrint?

For months, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has been discussing the development of its far-reaching policy document PlanMaryland, seeking to put into effect long-forgotten statutory authority that had been left dormant for decades. Now, with a draft document available for public comment, county officials are among the many stakeholders being sought for input on the document, and invited to open discussions about the policy effects.

The full PlanMaryland draft document is available online, but MACo will also seek to use the Conduit Street blog as a vehicle to isolate some components of the overall 188-page document for more accessible discussion. Here, we will discuss a meaningful component of the plan — the proposed advent of GrowthPrint as an element of this planning document, and perhaps as a new guiding element of state funding policies. The following block-quoted segment comes from the draft PlanMaryland document (dated April 28, 2011) pages 4-8 through 4-9.

GrowthPrint Areas – Purpose & Intent

The purpose of a GrowthPrint Area is to:

• Provide focal points for growth, economic development, and revitalization;

• Accommodate the vast majority of a jurisdiction’s non-resource based residential,
business and job growth;

• Support achievement of PlanMaryland’s Goal 1 (Concentration of growth in suitable areas) and Goal 3 (Ensure a desirable quality of life for Maryland is sustainable) and their respective Objectives, focus appropriate infrastructure capacity expansions and economic stimulus to support this growth, in ways that are commensurate with each jurisdiction’s size, population, economy and projected growth.

• Increase the supply of desirable residential and commercial development within a jurisdiction, minimize market pressure for growth outside PFAs, and thereby support achievement of PlanMaryland’s Goal 2 (Protect environmentally sensitive and rural lands from the impact of development) and its Objectives;

• Integrate transportation and land use to provide a high level of accessibility to goods, services and resources and facilitate nonmotorized travel, and, where appropriate, transit use.

The GrowthPrint areas would, then, be a subset of currently designated Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) — and in some cases, a substantially smaller area than the county’s currently identified PFA designation. In this map hosted by MDP, the fairly dramatic difference between current PFAs and the contemplated GrowthPrint areas is visible in block-by-block detail.

GrowthPrint is a fairly small subset of current PFAs

From the MDP site, the Department estimates that 27% of current acreage covered by PFAs would become GrowthPrint areas — potentially meaning a dramatic focusing of state resources into a far more limited geographic area than the current PFA categorization enables.

More information on the thinking behind GrowthPrint is at the MDP website section on the topic. From that site:

GrowthPrint was developed by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis to map existing State programs that target resources within Priority Funding Areas. The primary program that does so is the Sustainable Communities Program, which is comprised of the former Community Legacy Areas, Designated Neighborhoods and includes all BRAC Zones, designated TODs and Governor’s Smart Sites. MDP also received input from local governments on additional potential areas to be included in GrowthPrint and will continue to solicit additional input on eligible Growth Print areas from local jurisdictions on an ongoing basis. These additional geographies will be incorporated though the PlanMD process.

The GrowthPrint interactive website allows users to view the GIS layer representing the cumulative State and future local programs, as well as the individual layers that make up the separate programs mentioned above. Through a GIS overlay process, areas where programmatic geographies overlapped were identified and given a GrowthPrint designation. These designations were then categorized based on the number of times these programs overlapped each other. In the end, GrowthPrint gives a geographic representation of where the efforts are currently underway to target community infill, revitalization and redevelopment efforts, and where there are opportunities for future targeting.

How Did These Limited Areas Get Selected?

MDP includes a segment on “Local Input” at its GrowthPrint website:

In 2010, MDP reached out to county and municipal planning agencies to ask for additional local areas that could be included in the GrowthPrint analysis. MDP received feedback from about 15 local governments, most of which included additional geographies that could be included in GrowthPrint. These geographies include local programs and policies that can be linked to geographic areas that are focused areas for growth, redevelopment, and revitalization activities, as well as special funding areas within jurisdictions. They are areas that promote higher density, mixed use development patterns and/or have a revitalization and redevelopment component.

Currently, local input geographies are not shown in the analysis, but they will be added to future analysis updates through the PlanMD process. MDP will also continue to solicit additional potential GrowthPrint areas from local government entities.

So, the development and implementation of GrowthPrint is both a component within, and an outcome of, the continuing PlanMaryland process. This process has not arisen from a specific statutory mandate — there was no bill in the General Assembly to debate the merits of this approach — rather, the effort has largely been administrative, following the general charge in Maryland law enabling a state growth plan.

Identifying Further Growth Areas

The continued effort would include some process for local governments to help define additional areas beyond the current templates for GrowthPrint for their own focus. Thus, by adding “Initial Designations” (the templates seen above) to the “State/Local Designations” the state would formally recognize this subset of the PFAs as the top growth priority areas in each jurisdiction. The draft plan spells out some of the process for identifying the State/Local designations, though some details are not yet available:

State/Local Designations

State/Local Designations of GrowthPrint Areas must be:

• Located within a jurisdiction’s Priority Funding Area boundaries as of January 2011, unless there is a compelling reason that the existing PFA cannot be further developed or redeveloped to achieve PlanMaryland objectives for GrowthPrint areas.

• Supported by an adopted local comprehensive plan that includes a goal to concentrate the vast majority of the jurisdiction’s future non-resource-based residential, business and employment growth in the GrowthPrint area by 2030. This goal should be sufficient to support achievement of PlanMaryland’s Goals, Objectives and the GrowthPrint Area objectives in light of a jurisdiction’s size, population, economy and projected growth.

• Governed by local capital and non-capital plans, policies, ordinances, regulations, and procedures likely to achieve PlanMaryland’s Goals, Objectives and the objectives for GrowthPrint Areas in light of a jurisdiction’s size, population, economy and projected growth.

• Areas approved as a “Sustainable Community” in accordance with the designation criteria provided in the Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 legislation will receive State/Local GrowthPrint Area designation.

Early indications from the draft document and the stakeholder comment thus far suggest that the proposed creation of GrowthPrint areas and their use as a guiding principle for state investment may be a dramatic new element of the state and local relationship on land use and growth management. County officials and other parties are asked to provide comment to the Department on the draft plan by September 1, 2011 — and MACo will be leading efforts to further analyze and refine county comments on this important policy document.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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