Delegate Calls for “Top Down” Approach for “A Better Maryland”

As previously reported on Conduit Street, a MACo 2018 Summer Conference panel offered various perspectives on the future of Smart Growth and the pending state development plan “A Better Maryland.” A Daily Record article (2018-08-17) also covered the event and included the perspective of Maryland Delegate Stephen Lafferty, who moderated the panel and is chair of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

A Better Maryland is set replace the State’s now defunct development plan “PlanMaryland.” In the article, Lafferty argued that A Better Maryland needed to take a top down approach and include mandates on local governments. From the article:

Lafferty said any plan created next year will be scrutinized by lawmakers and that mandates may be unavoidable. He said the Better Maryland plan “may be lighter than what I think is needed.”

“It has to be top down,” said Lafferty. (The state) has to say, ‘You guys have to address these issues, you have to address climate change.’ We have to find a different balance, and it’s not going to be easy.”

Lafferty also defended PlanMaryland and argued that focusing on urban areas was important because that’s where the majority of the state’s population lives. Lafferty’s urban area comments were in response to comments made during the presentation by Maryland Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters that focused more rural areas.

MACo supported the aspects of PlanMaryland that included better coordination between State agencies on land use and project decisions (horizontal integration) and criticized the aspects of the plan that created a more top-down planning approach and added another layer of planning designations over the existing planning framework. Ultimately, only a very small percentage of counties and municipalities undertook the PlanMaryland designation process.

The article also summarized the comments of the three panelists on “A Better Maryland.” The panelists included Peters, National Center for Smart Growth Executive Director Gerrit Knaap, and Garrett County Planner Director Deborah Carpenter.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Coverage of Smart Growth Panel at 2018 MACo Summer Conference

A Better Maryland Webpage