Budget Analysis Reviews Comprehensive Plans and PlanMaryland

In the Department of Legislative Services’ (DLS) analysis of the operating budget for the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP), a series of issues were raised regarding local water and sewer plans, comprehensive plans, and PlanMaryland. Below are the specific questions asked by DLS and partial responses from MDP.   A complete response can be found in MDP’s response document.

DLS recommends that MDP comment on the consistency of county plans with local and State development plans and policies over the time period shown and how this information may be reflected in future MFR measure submissions.

…With the adoption of PlanMaryland by the Governor, MDP is working with local governments to identify their PlanMaryland Planning Areas. Each Planning Area has specific objectives directed toward promoting smart growth and the coordination of state and local government efforts. As part of PlanMaryland’s implementation and coordination with local governments, MDP will be monitoring consistency of water and sewer plan amendment to county and municipal PlanMaryland Planning Areas. MDP is currently developing indicators of consistency that may be recommended as future MFRs.

DLS recommends that MDP comment on the absolute number of comprehensive plans that have adopted a smart growth or resource conservation principle over the time period shown and how this information may be reflected in future MFR measure submissions.

…Of the 180 jurisdictions in Maryland, there are 133 local governments that have planning and zoning authority, and all of them have adopted a comprehensive plan. Every one of them addresses Maryland’s 12 Planning Visions in one manner or another, including responding to smart growth and resource conservation issues in their community.

…Moving forward, MDP proposes to monitor revisions to local comprehensive plans that specifically promote smart growth and resource conservation provisions. … Since the number of comprehensive plan amendments reviewed by MDP is dependent upon local governments initiating the amendment process, the absolute number of plan amendment reviews is outside the control of MDP. However, moving forward MDP should be able to provide more specific recommendations to promote smart growth by referencing a jurisdiction’s PlanMaryland Planning Areas and identifying implementation strategies that local and state agencies can work together on. MDP is currently developing indicators of consistency that may be recommended as future MFRs.

DLS recommends that MDP comment on why jurisdictions have been slow to identify Planning Areas, on why no State agency implementation plans have been finalized and formally accepted, and on any other funding in the fiscal 2014 operating and capital budgets supporting the implementation of PlanMaryland.

Most local governments over the past year have focused their resources toward identifying their Growth Tier maps, as required by SB 236 (the Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012). With jurisdictions now completing the identification of Growth Tiers, more and more counties and municipalities have contacted MDP for assistance identifying their PlanMaryland Planning Areas.

…Since the local identification of Planning Areas is voluntary, some local governments are delaying the identification of Planning Areas until they can see specific benefits associated with PlanMaryland Planning Areas.

A complete listing of all fiscal 2014 budget documents affecting county governments can be found on MACo’s website under Research, then Budget and Tax.

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