County officials received and update on the pending State Development Plan on December 7 at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference. The panel was called “Planning Ahead: Preparing for the New State Development Plan” and was moderated by Wicomico County Council Member Matthew Holloway.
Maryland Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters stated that the new State Development Plan, called “A Better Maryland,” would be built on local comprehensive plans and focus on: (1) identifying local priorities; (2) improving communication between state agencies; and (3) assessing information needs at both the state and local levels. Peters noted that as part of the plan development process, other planning tools, such as the Maryland Transportation Plan and infrastructure funding, would also be reviewed for potential changes. Peters also provided an update on the listening session that are occurring in each county and stressed that the Maryland Department of Planning would also be meeting with regional councils and other stakeholders as well.
National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education Director Gerrit Knaap noted that only about a half-dozen states attempt a statewide plan and that statewide planning can be a useful exercise. Knaap stated that PlanMaryland, the previous and now rescinded State Development Plan, did not take into account planning trends occurring in Europe, which included planning becoming more decentralized from the state/nation level and more invested at a regional level. There was also a movement towards incentives and away from regulations to encourage local compliance with state/national goals. Knaap urged that “A Better Maryland” should be an amalgamation of local plans and Maryland can then flag areas of contention and conflict (similar to what Maryland does for Priority Funding Areas). Knaap noted that the state can then layer other issues (transportation, enviornemntal, etc.) on top of the local “base layer.”
1000 Friends of Maryland Executive Director John Campagna stated that A Better Maryland needed three key components: (1) a partnership committment by the State; (2) solid metrics; and (3) inclusion of all stakeholders in the development process. Campagna stressed that all voices needed to be heard – urban, rural, and suburban.