MACo Submits IRR Comments to Sustainable Growth Commission

MACo has submitted its comments on the Infill, Redevelopment, and Revitalization (IRR) Policy currently under consideration by the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.  The comments were developed jointly by group of urban and rural county planners and MACo staff.    For an explanation of and further background on the IRR Policy, see the Conduit Street article “The ABC’s of IRR: Infill, Redevelopment, Revitalization.”

The MACo comments are based on the June 25th  version of the Commission’s Working Draft of Potential Recommendations, which contains 114 recommendations broken down into eight broad subject areas:  (1) General Issues; (2) Economic Issues; (3) Community Design; (4) Market Dynamics; (5) Equitable Development; (6) Programs and Policies, (7) Education; and (8) Transit-Oriented Development.

MACo’s primary concerns with and hopes for IRR Policy are summarized in the following paragraph from the comments:

There is no question that infill, redevelopment, and revitalization are key components in a land use plan that furthers sound Smart Growth principles.  A properly developed IRR Policy will further Smart Growth goals by focusing growth and assisting in the creation of needed infrastructure in locally designated growth areas.  However, a poorly developed IRR Policy could undermine local land use decision-making, create inequities amongst different regions of the state, and fail to acknowledge important local needs and issues.

MACo laid out four “core positions” in the comments regarding:

  1. Preserving local land use decision making;
  2. Ensuring the IRR Policy treats all jurisdictions – urban and rural, county and municipality – fairly;
  3. Providing that the IRR Policy is flexible to acknowledge local differences and does not take a “one size fits all” approach; and
  4. Stressing that MACo and both urban and rural counties be consulted throughout the IRR development process.

MACo also provided specific comments on a number of the 114 recommendations.  Several broad themes were highlighted including:

  1. Focusing the IRR Policy on “locally designated growth areas” where counties commit to long term growth, including IRR.  These jurisdictions could include designated Sustainable Communities and PlanMaryland growth and revitalization areas but not exclusively limited to them.
  2. Avoiding de facto land use decision making vesting with the Smart Growth Subcabinet and providing incentives and options to counties rather than mandates.
  3. Educating the general public and the media about the benefits of well-planned IRR growth.
  4. Creating better “horizontal integration” at the State level to reduce conflicting policies and permitting issues among the various departments
  5. The creation of a dedicated infrastructure funding mechanism.

Regarding the infrastructure funding mechanism, MACo commented:

MACo believes the top issue that the State must address is the creation of a dedicated infrastructure funding mechanism that will provide for the creation of necessary infrastructure in locally designated growth areas AND for the maintenance, replacement and, where necessary, upgrades to infrastructure outside of the locally designated growth areas.  This infrastructure funding source should include funding for roads, schools, water and sewer, and stormwater.

MACo concluded its comments by noting:

If the IRR Policy respects local autonomy, includes flexibility, and addresses the State’s longstanding deficit regarding infrastructure funding, then MACo believes the Policy will be successful in furthering Smart Growth goals and will naturally inspire more planning coordination between municipalities, counties, and the State.  MACo urges the Commission to make recommendations that move the Policy in this beneficial direction.

The Commission’s deadline for submitting its recommendations is August 31.  Over the next several weeks the Commission will be paring down its set of recommendations.

MACo’s Comments on Draft IRR Policy (2014-07-14)

Conduit Street Coverage of the IRR Policy

Commission Chair Jon Laria will take part in an IRR Panel at the 2014 MACo Summer Conference.  Click here for further information on the panel, entitled “Is IRR Maryland’s Next Big Land Use Policy?”

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.