The House Environmental Matters Committee heard a status update from the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission on January 30. Commission Chair Jon Laria briefed the Committee on the Commission’s history, current activities and planned agenda.
Mr. Laria discussed the Commission’s recent proposals regarding funding for Smart Growth projects and programs, including the creation of a renewable funding mechanism that would raise at least $35 million annually, enhancing the statutory authority for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) , and enhancing local infrastructure financing in older communities via the Local Government Infrastructure Financing (LGIF) program or a State Infrastructure Bank.
He also noted the Commission’s efforts to create a streamlined State and local construction and building permit process. He argued that a “coordinated approach” was needed as it was “often local permitting that causes [builder and developer] anxiety.” However, he did also state that he did not see the Commission recommending to mandate permitting requirements on local governments.
Mr. Laria highlighted the Commission’s recent efforts on creating a Smart Growth model for rural jurisdictions, noting that “Smart Growth looks different in a rural context.” He also stressed the importance of avoiding rural versus urban tension and that Smart Growth should not be a “one-size-fits-all” doctrine. He noted that the Commission was looking for individuals to participate on the rural growth workgroup and had asked MACo and MML to help provide additional local representation.
Mr. Laria also discussed the Commission’s activities involving a Smart Growth “Status Check,” education efforts, watershed implementation plan (WIP) activities, the preparation of a State Housing Policy Framework (“Housing Maryland”), the potential creation of additional Smart Growth indicators, evaluation of local Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances (APFOs), and PlanMaryland development.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Commission will be holding its first annual Sustainable Growth Forum and Awards Ceremony on February 5.