Planning Secretary Calls For Redevelopment Strategy, End to Greenfield Development

In an April 22  Smart Growth Maryland blog post, Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall advocated for redeveloping existing towns, cities, and communities and ending “greenfield development.”  In the post, Hall outlined several reasons for pursuing a redevelopment-only strategy, including data gathered by the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP):

Reinvesting in cities can be thought of as recycling on a grand scale, with buildings and infrastructure being reused and adapted for new, productive lives.  …

Building farther from the core means extending public services like water, sewer, schools and roads. None of that is cheap, and all Marylanders pay for it.

Moreover, driving long distances from homes built in greenfields to jobs or stores contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions. Those far flung subdivision will do nothing to reach Governor O’Malley’s goal of reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

City dwellers have more transportation options – transit, walking, cycling – and they can drive much shorter distances for a carton of milk.

In my view, the era of greenfield development should be over. Maryland has enough developed lands to service its expected population for decades. An MDP analysis shows that all of the state’s projected growth – an estimated 800,000 additional residents – through 2035 could fit within designated growth areas. Moreover, changing household characteristics, with smaller family sizes, and the preference of Millennials for walkable urban areas, makes city settings seem a natural fit.  …

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown have asked the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission to craft and infill and redevelopment policy over the 2014 Interim.  In his blog article, Hall reiterated MDP’s support of the policy:

MDP is supporting the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission in responding to a directive from Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown to provide recommendations for infill, redevelopment and revitalization. We are choosing communities throughout Maryland as examples where investment in downtowns is recreating great places.