Today, Governor O’Malley announced a new timetable for adoption of PlanMaryland, substantially in response to county concerns raised most visibly at the recent MACo conference. The new timetable announced if for a new draft to be released on September 7, and then for the Plan to be finalized and submitted to the Governor on November 7.
The news marked a second procedural accommodation announced in the last week. Prior to the MACo conference, the announced plan had been to accept comments on the existing plan (released in April) until September 1, and then no further release of information (i.e. what comments and suggestions had been incorporated into a revised plan) prior to its final submission. At the MACo conference, the Governor agreed that a revised draft would be made available for stakeholeder and public comment, but at that time had suggested a one-month period to receive comment on that draft. During a session on the topic, several county officials expressed concern with that proposed timing, and multiple county officials have sought a 12-month period for continued input and comment.
New comments during the review period will be incorporated into the final version of PlanMaryland, which will be submitted to O’Malley by mid-November, the planning department said. The department released the first draft of the plan on April 28.
“I have appreciated all the input we’ve received so far from local officials and residents during the initial 120-day comment period since April,” said Richard Hall, who is the secretary of the planning department. “Achieving complete agreement on the process may be difficult, but there seems to be broad accord on the objectives of PlanMaryland. If our children and grandchildren ask 30 years from now who paid attention to the health of our land, water and communities, we want to be able to answer: We did.”
The plan concerns local officials, because the state will be able to make spending decisions on infrastructure based on how well counties follow the plan.