Advocates Cautiously Optimistic Over Smart Growth’s Future Under Hogan and Craig

A January 9 Baltimore Sun article examined the cautious optimism of advocates as Governor Elect Larry Hogan and his new Secretary of Planning choice, former Harford County Executive David Craig, begin the challenging job of deciding what aspects of Maryland’s Smart Growth policy to continue, amend, or discard.  The article noted that Hogan has not provided a detailed position on Smart Growth, although he has been critical of PlanMaryland and the proposed Red and Purple light rail lines.  The article also noted that economic development will likely receive more of a focus under the incoming Hogan Administration.

But [1000 Friends of Maryland Executive Director Dru] Schmidt-Perkins said she is optimistic that the economic case for smart-growth strategies will be enough to persuade Hogan — who made improving the state’s economy the signature of his campaign — to stay the course.  …

“Economic development has always been part of Maryland’s smart-growth model, but it hasn’t always received the prominence that’s needed,” said Les Knapp, legal and policy counsel for the Maryland Association of Counties. “That is clearly changing at this point.”

Densely populated areas help spur job growth, said Gerrit J. Knaap, executive director of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland. He cited the center’s recent research, which found higher rates of business creation in 19 employment clusters in Maryland, ranging in size from downtown Baltimore and Bethesda to Hagerstown and Westminster. …

“We can’t afford to buy into the false choice between the environment and the economy and start giving growth a free pass,” [Chesapeake Bay Foundation Planner Erik Fisher] said. “I don’t think the new administration needs to reinvent the wheel. There’s a real groundwork to pick up and move some of these policies forward.”

MACo was also quoted about its longstanding position that Maryland’s Smart Growth model should be amended to better address rural growth needs.

The Hogan administration likely will focus first on the budget, not an overhaul of land-use policy, said Les Knapp of the Maryland Association of Counties. But the group — which opposed parts of Plan Maryland — hopes to see changes to make the policies less “one size fits all,” he said.

“Maryland’s model has been very forward-looking, cutting-edge. It’s worked well for urban counties and urban areas, however [the Maryland Association of Counties] believes it does not currently really meet all of the needs of rural areas very well,” he said. “We would call to bring the stakeholders together to tweak and amend the model to really look at specific growth issues, how to achieve a mixed-use community in a rural area. It’s going to look a little different.”

The article also discusses developer concerns and the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.