MPCA Hears From Local Officials, Planning & Environment Departments at 2016 Conference

mpca_logoLocal planning commissioners and board of appeals members heard from Administration officials and local elected officials at the 2016 Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) 2016 Annual Conference.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Frederick City Mayor Randy McClement were the opening speakers. Gardner spoke about the diverse economy of Frederick County, noting it was ranked the 2nd fastest Maryland county for business growth by Smart Asset (Howard County was ranked #1). Gardner also highlighted the County’s new comprehensive plan, dubbed “Liveable Frederick.” The plan is based on feedback from citizens about how they want the County to look in 20-30 years, rather than the more traditional population projections. The final version will be unveiled soon. McClement urged and attendees to educate themselves about land use issues and described how the City attempted to eliminate departmental silos by combining its parks and recreation, planning, and board of appeals functions under its public works department.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner

Attendees also heard from Maryland Secretary of Planning Wendi Peters and Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. Peters announced that the Maryland Department of Planning will work in partnership with local governments to help them achieve their goals rather than taking a “top down approach.” Peters also stated that the Department would be focusing on revitalization and infill.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles (L) and Secretary of Planning Wendi Peters (R)

Grumbles discussed the need for renewable energy but stated that it should be done in accordance with local planning to create “win-win situations.” Grumbles stated that renewable energy and energy efficiency measures should be designed to generate jobs and positive economic outcomes and not just increase costs on homeowners.

Other sessions of interest included zoning for medical cannabis, Open Meetings Act training, handling development applications, assistance from the American Planning Association, and the siting of wind and solar facilities.

Useful Links

MPCA Website

Hear more about the issue of siting energy generation facilities and potential local land use preemption during The New Wild, Wild West? Energy and Open Space panel at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: