MACo Supports Program Open Space Funding Flexibility

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp, testified in support of SB 896 which would allow counties greater flexibility to move local Program Open Space (POS) funding between land acquisition and facilities projects. The bill was sponsored by Senator John Astle.

MACo’s testimony states,

The bill would allow counties to shift POS funding between land acquisition and facility projects if: (1) the project is consistent with and supports the goals, objectives, and priorities of a local governing body’s land preservation and recreation plan and annual program; and (2) the plan determines that additional land acquisition is not merited. The bill also makes several corrective changes to the local POS statute.

MACo has consistently supported local POS as a two-pronged program that funds both: (1) land acquisition; and (2) recreational facilities. SB 896 would retain this duality by incorporating local POS funding decisions more closely with a county’s 5-year land preservation and recreation plan. The plan would require counties to clearly specify their recreational goals, objectives, and priorities – much as a comprehensive plan includes a county’s land use goals, objectives, and priorities. The bill’s requirement that all projects must be consistent with the recreation plan mirrors the requirement that zoning must be consistent with a comprehensive plan.

The benefits of SB 896 include allowing counties to maximize their funding effectiveness by adjusting projects based on current economic conditions and being better able to assist municipalities with their priority projects.

Supporting Mr. Knapp before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee were representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and the Maryland Association of County Parks and Recreation Administrators (MACPRA).

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.