Outreach Effort Announced for “A Better Maryland” State Development Plan

A Maryland Planning Blog article (2017-10-25) announced the start of official outreach efforts for the new State Development Plan, now named “A Better Maryland.” A Better Maryland will replace the previous State Development Plan, PlanMaryland, that was recently repealed by Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan. The outreach will be conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning. The Department also announced the launch of a new A Better Maryland webpage.

From the blog article:

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) wants to hear from you about the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland. When we say “you,” we mean “you.” In a series of 24 Listening Session events (local staff, elected officials, and the public) in every Maryland County and Baltimore City over the winter and early spring of 2017-18, Planning will be coming to your area. We encourage everyone interested in fostering good planning, enhancing our quality of life, ensuring responsible growth, and protecting our resources to join us for a statewide dialogue.

But what is a State Development Plan? Maryland law gives Planning the responsibility of periodically updating the State’s plan, which is currently five years old. Until recently, local governments were required to review their comprehensive plan every six years to see if they were still addressing local needs. State government should do the same. While the law provides guidance on State Development Plans in Title 5, Subtitle 6 of the State Finance & Procurement Article, it does not dictate what should be in one nor how it should be organized.

This is where the outreach effort comes in.  The purpose of the Listening Sessions and the larger statewide dialogue is to engage and connect with the public, local governments, state agencies, and other stakeholders to solicit feedback about vital resources and information that A Better Maryland might include, and how it can help local governments and state agencies better meet their planning needs. Outreach will inform what A Better Maryland should contain from all perspectives, and we need to hear from you what those perspectives are! Planning wants to stress that the development of the content, format, and direction of A Better Maryland will be a collaborative effort, and at this point they are not predetermined. Two things are for certain, the plan will be neither a regulatory document nor a statewide comprehensive plan.

The following themes will guide A Better Maryland:

  1. Listening: Planning wants to hear from the public, local governments, state agencies and other stakeholders about how a State Development Plan can be a valuable resource at the state and/or local level.
  2. Identify Local Priorities: The outreach will help determine what issues and information should be included in A Better Maryland. This outreach process will ensure that local priorities are factored into its development.
  3. Identify Information Sources: The outreach effort will also help to identify what State or local data sources (such as development activity and preservation efforts) should be evaluated and tracked over time to inform state and local government decision-making.
  4. Involvement in the Process: Planning will solicit widespread involvement stressing local participation in developing A Better Maryland. The success of this effort depends on assistance from you.
  5. Utility: The goal of this project is to develop a State Development Plan that will be useful in advancing the interests of the public, local governments, state agencies, and other stakeholders and be a valuable resource for years to come.

A Better Maryland is a two-year project which was initiated by Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18 this past summer, with an expected completion date of July 2019.  Planning will work closely with local governments and other stakeholders, state agencies, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, the Maryland Municipal League, and the Maryland Association of Counties to develop and maintain a productive dialogue throughout the effort and provide multiple opportunities for feedback. We want to listen, check with you to make sure we heard you correctly, listen some more, and then check again; all before the completion of a final plan.

For further information about A Better Maryland, contact Director of Planning Coordination Chuck Boyd at 410.767.1401 or chuck.boyd@maryland.gov.

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of A Better Maryland State Development Plan

To learn more about what A Better Maryland means for counties and perspectives on what the Plan should contain, attend the “Planning Ahead: Preparing for the New State Development Plan” session on December 7 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: