For those individuals who have not yet sat down and read the nearly 100-page PlanMaryland Revised Draft, MACo has prepared the following summary that may help you focus on the chapters or issues most important to you:
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
Chapter 1 introduces the concept of PlanMaryland and discusses what the Plan intends to accomplish. The chapter also states that PlanMaryland is not intended to be a substitute for or override local comprehensive plans and zoning.
CHAPTER 2: TRENDS AND LAND USE IMPLICATIONS
Chapter 2 is a long chapter that outlines current and historical trends in a broad range of policy areas, including land use, transportation, housing, demographics, economic, agriculture, natural resources lands, water quality, and climate change. The chapter then discusses the cost and infrastructure implications for the State and local governments if “current” trends continue versus the Plan’s “Smart Growth” scenario.
CHAPTER 3: PLANMARYLAND’S VISIONS, GOALS AND OBJECTIVES – LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Chapter 3 lays out the three primary goals of the Plan and describes objectives and possible benchmarks relating to each goal. The three goals are:
(1) Concentrate development and redevelopment in communities where there is existing and planned infrastructure.
(2) Preserve and protect environmentally sensitive and rural lands and resources from the impacts of development.
(3) Ensure that a desirable quality of life in Maryland’s communities is sustainable.
Some of the potential benchmarks include achieving 90% new dwelling units within Priority Funding Areas between 2010 and 2030, protecting 300,000 acres from being converted to development between 2010 and 2030, doubling transit ridership by 2020, and improving the jobs-housing balance in Maryland’s counties to achieve a ratio between (x) and (x) by 2030. [Many of the potential benchmarks include numbers or percentages to be filled in at a future date.]
CHAPTER 4: DEFINING THE GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS OF THE PLAN: DESIGNATED PLACES
Potentially the most significant portion of the Plan, Chapter 4 establishes designated places and special areas that will direct State policy and also creates a designation process.
Essentially, the Plan creates two types of land designations – (1) designated places and (2) designated special areas. Designated places are analogous to growth and conservation areas and a given parcel of land may only be designated as a single category of designated place. There are five categories of designated places:
(1) Growth and Revitalization Areas;
(2) Established Community Areas in Priority Funding Areas;
(3) Future Growth Areas;
(4) Low Density Development Areas; and
(5) Rural Resource Areas.
Designated special areas are areas that have unique qualities and need to be protected and preserved. Unlike with designated places, a given parcel of land may be designated as multiple categories of special areas. A given parcel of land may be designated both as a designated place and one or more designated special areas. There are five categories of special areas:
(1) Priority Preservation Areas for Agriculture;
(2) Ecological Areas;
(3) Water Resource Areas;
(4) Historic and Cultural Areas; and
(5) Areas Subject to the Effects of Climate Change.
Local governments may nominate designated places and designated special areas, but the nominations are subject to State approval. The State will not nominate designated places, but reserves the right to set designated special areas. The specific benefits, ramifications, and local responsibilities for each type of designated place or designated special are not yet detailed. The specifics will be included in the future in a separate Place and Special Areas Designation Element. The designation process will follow a schedule set in the Plan.
CHAPTER 5: STATE COORDINATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
Chapter 5 discusses the process the State will use to create implementation strategies for the Plan. The strategies will likely include not just funding decisions, but also permits and other regulatory approvals. Local governments are expected to also “follow through” with the implementation strategies created for the Plan by changing their own policies, programs, and procedures to be consistent with the Plan. Implementation strategies will be created following a schedule set in the Plan.
CHAPTER 6: MANAGEMENT AND TRACKING PROGRESS
Chapter 6 outlines the Plan’s oversight and performance tracking functions. Primary oversight responsibility will vest with the Smart Growth Subcabinet, including both the place designation process and State implementation strategies. The Sustainable Growth Commission will serve in an advisory capacity. The chapter briefly discusses but does not define the performance measures that will be used for the Plan, which will be included in the future in a separate Metrics Element.