The Rural Economies Workgroup of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission held it first meeting on November 18. Greg Bowen, a Commission member representing Southern Maryland and former Calvert County Planning Director, is the chair of the Workgroup. State representatives participating in the meeting included the Maryland Departments of Planning (MDP), Agriculture, Natural Resources, Business and Economic Development, and Health and Mental Hygiene. Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp represented MACo. Other represented stakeholder groups included the Maryland Rural Council, 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and Western Maryland. MDP will be staffing the Workgroup.
The Workgroup discussed a draft goal, set of objectives, and possible strategies for achieving those objectives. An initial set of four objectives included: (1) land preservation; (2) sustainable food supply system; (3) sustainable forestry; and (4) sustainable rural recreation. However, it is likely that these objectives and related strategies will be modified and several additional objectives added as the Workgroup finalizes its work plan. Knapp suggested that the Workgroup consider examining areas where Maryland’s current Smart Growth policy does not mesh well with rural development issues and consider potential “tweaks” to policy that better address rural needs. Other potential objectives included preservation of natural open spaces and public education.
The Workgroup hopes to finalize its work plan by December. Recommendations from the Workgroup will be targeted at both the State and local governments and will likely include proposed regulatory and statutory changes. For further information please contact Les Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.269.0043.