Planners Roundtable Focuses On Economic Development

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) hosted its summer Planning Directors Roundtable meeting on June 13.  The Roundtable – which meets quarterly and includes State, county, and municipal planning officials – focused its discussions on integrating economic development into the comprehensive planning process.

Prior to the meeting, MDP conducted a survey among local planning officials on issues that the Roundtable should focus on.  By a significant measure, local planners stated that economic development was a key concern.  Affordable housing and climate change preparation garnered the least amount of responses.

MDP also stated that is looking to include functional plan elements, such as economic development, as part of PlanMaryland.

The Roundtable also received an update about the Sustainable Communities application process.  Neighborhoods that were previously designated as a community legacy or designated neighborhood were temporarily grandfathered into the new classification of sustainable communities when the prior programs were collapsed.  The grandfathering status will expire on December 31 and local governments must reapply for sustainable community status if they wish a grandfathered neighborhood to keep the designation.

The next application round with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) expires on June 26.  There will be a subsequent application round that expires on October 1, but if a local government waits until October DHCD cannot guarantee that a neighborhood will be re-designated before its sustainable community status lapses at the end of the year.  However, a neighborhood can be subsequently be re-approved in the future.

Sustainable Communities Benefits

The fall Roundtable meeting, tentatively scheduled October 3, will continue the economic development discussion and try to include State and local economic development officials and private sector representatives.