A Maryland Department of Planning press release (2019-08-07) announced the release of the new state development plan, A Better Maryland. The plan will guide growth, preservation efforts, and infrastructure development throughout the state.
Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order in 2017 ordering the creation of A Better Maryland and rescinded PlanMaryland. MACo had expressed concerns over PlanMaryland due to its top-down approach and creation of new (and in MACo’s view redundant) land use classifications. A Better Maryland is developed from a bottom-up approach that recognizes the roles of both local governments and other stakeholders in land use decision making.
From the press release:
“This new state development plan was developed to coordinate the planning needs of state agencies and local governments while encouraging Maryland to grow responsibly,” said Governor Hogan. “This inclusive bottom-up approach listens to the needs of our communities and puts planning authority in the hands of local government, where it belongs, while balancing economic development and environmental preservation.”
“It was only through local feedback and interaction that we collectively created this dynamic new state development plan,” said Planning Secretary Rob McCord. “This approach to planning where we work closely with all of our state and local partners, ensures continued economic growth and helps meet local planning needs.”
More than 85 meetings and listening sessions were held between fall 2017 and early 2019 to gather feedback in every Maryland county and Baltimore City. Several hundred comments were received and documented over the initial 18 months, which included two separate rounds of meetings and online surveys. This critical feedback formed the framework for the final plan.
“This new plan addresses the needs of each region of our state and is focused on increasing coordination between state agencies and local governments,” said Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters. “The plan supports responsible growth and infrastructure planning, revitalization of existing communities, and preservation of our natural and cultural resources.”
In addition to the actual plan, A Better Maryland’s webpage offers numerous digital resources to help local officials and interested parties make informed land use decisions.
MACo submitted comments on the draft plan of A Better Maryland that included both praise and constructive criticism. MACo’s primary concerns with the draft were: (1) acknowledgment of rural, suburban, and urban differences along with regional differences; (2) the inclusion of agriculture in the plan’s strategies for modernizing key Maryland industries; and (3) creation of a new strategy to study and review the funding of state and local infrastructure needs. The final version of A Better Maryland was revised to address all three of MACo’s main concerns.
Executive Order 01.01.2017.18 (Rescinds PlanMaryland and creates A Better Maryland)