Dru Schmidt-Perkins Leaves 1000 Friends of Maryland

Dru Schmidt-Perkins was a fixture in Annapolis during the annual General Assembly sessions, testifying and lobbying on behalf of 1000 Friends of Maryland. She was preparing in her final week to participate in a legislative hearing about renewable energy development on farmland. (Dave Harp)
Dru Schmidt-Perkins (Source: The Bay Journal)

A Bay Journal article (2017-11-08) highlighted the long career of Dru Schmidt-Perkins, who recently stepped down as Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Maryland, a position she has held for 19 years. Schmidt-Perkins grew 1000 Friends from a small nonprofit to a key stakeholder on issues related to Smart Growth, sprawl development, and the preservation of open space.

 

The article highlighted some key land use issues Schmidt-Perkins and 1000 Friends tackled, including the Chapman’s Landing development in Charles County, the Terrapin Run development in Allegany County, the septic-tier legislation from 2012, and the Mattawoman Creek development in Charles County. From the article:

“We changed the debate about [sprawl development],” [Schmidt-Perkins] said, sitting in her group’s Baltimore rowhome offices on her last day as executive director. “It used to be you had to grow to thrive; it was the key to economic development. And now, much more, it’s about where you grow.” …

Through it all, Schmidt-Perkins made it clear 1000 Friends was not about stopping growth, but about seeing it done in a way that was cost-effective and “environmentally sane,” as she put it in 1998. …

I’ve had the greatest gig,” Schmidt-Perkins said, as 1000 Friends grew to speak for more than a thousand voices. Looking ahead, she said she hasn’t ruled out staying involved somehow in smart growth issues, since they connect to so much else that matters. “Growth done badly is expensive,” she pointed out, “for the environment, and for county and state budgets.”

 

In the article, Schmidt-Perkins gave Maryland’s current Governor, Lawrence “Larry” Hogan, a mixed grade on land use, criticizing his loosening of restrictions on developments on septic systems and weakening the Maryland Department of Planning but praising his actions in protecting Program Open Space.

 

During her tenure, MACo and 1000 Friends were often at opposite positions on land use issues but occasionally were able to work together. During the 2017 Session, Schmidt-Perkins worked with MACo and a broad coalition of stakeholders to enact legislation giving local governments a greater voice in the siting of large-scale energy projects (HB 1350).

John Campagna, an environmental investment consultant, has taken over as 1000 Friends new Executive Director.

To learn more about what the State’s new development plan – 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: