PlanMaryland, Draft 2: What It Is, What It Isn’t

With the recent release of a revised draft of PlanMaryland, and a proposed 60-day comment period for input on this substantially new document, MACo intends to illuminate issues relevant to the local government community through a series of writings in the weeks ahead.

MACo’s Comments on Plan Maryland (April Draft)
Search for all PlanMaryland content on the Conduit Street blog
PlanMaryland – Original Draft (April 2011)
MDP Progress Report (July 2011)
PlanMaryland- Revised Draft (September 2011)
Maryland Department of Planning’s PlanMaryland website

Previous article:
Who Really Sets Growth Areas?

Today’s topic: What It Is, What It Isn’t

When MACo submitted comments on the first draft of PlanMaryland, one section of this comments was to raise concern about “scope and boundaries of the plan.” Namely, MACo liked much of the language that appeared in a pamphlet distributed by the Maryland Department of Planning, that made some broad statements about “What PlanMaryland Is/What PlanMaryland Isn’t.” MACO specifically urged the Department to incorporate those statements into the revised version.

In the September revision, the Introduction section includes much of this language as a sidebar of text. From the revised draft, here are those statements:

From page 1-2:

What PlanMaryland Is
It’s a plan to:
• Improve the way in which state agencies and local governments work together to accomplish common goals and objectives for growth, development and preservation.
• Help accommodate a projected 1 million additional residents, 500,000 new households and 600,000 new jobs by the year 2035 without sacrificing our agricultural and natural resources.
• Stimulate economic development and revitalization in towns, cities and other existing communities that have facilities to support growth.
• Save 300,000+ acres of farmland and forest over the next 25 years.
• Save Maryland an estimated $1.5 billion a year in infrastructure costs during the next 20 years through a smart-growth approach to land use.
• Address the rapid pace of land consumption, which since 1970 has escalated at double the rate of housing growth and triple the rate of population increase.

…and on the subsequent page, 1-3:

What PlanMaryland Is Not
It’s not a:
•Substitute for local comprehensive plans nor will it take away local planning and zoning authority.
• Top-down approach to force compliance with a statewide land-use plan.
• Silver bullet that will solve all of our problems, but it is a strategic plan to address issues such as community disinvestment, sprawl development and inefficient use of existing resources.
• “One size fits all” approach. PlanMaryland recognizes that different areas of the state have different characteristics, problems, issues and opportunities.
• Mandate to spend more. On the contrary, if PlanMaryland helps local governments implement their existing comprehensive plans, it will save money by avoiding expenditures for unnecessary infrastructure and other costs.
• Conclusion. It’s the beginning of a collaborative process between the State and local governments to address critical issues of environmental and fiscal sustainability.

While the inclusion of the language does not address all of MACo’s concerns with the Plan, MACo appreciates the gesture and remains ready to work through our other concerns with the Department.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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