Former Planning Secretary Criticizes “A Better Maryland”

Former Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall criticized the state’s new development plan, A Better Maryland, and recent Smart Growth efforts in a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2019-09-09). Hall served as planning secretary under the Martin O’Malley Administration and created the state’s first development plan, PlanMaryland. Hall offered his view on the differences between the two plans, claiming that A Better Maryland was as substantive as a “funnel cake on the Ocean City Boardwalk.” From the op-ed:

What is the difference between the two plans? One document was focused on specific policies and tasks to move forward, and the other is cover for killing it. In a nutshell, Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan is much lighter, shorter and technical assistance focused compared to PlanMaryland. Much of it refers to existing state programs. Those are not bad things, but they are not a plan.

PlanMaryland connected existing programs and assistance to an overall-growth strategy and implementation — targeting areas for preservation and various levels of development. It included a whole section on implementation, coordination, mapping policy areas, etc. There also was much more data and analysis in PlanMaryland to provide background and to support its policies. It also got notice in national media. A Better Maryland does not do this, and that isn’t by accident.
Hall also accused Hogan of weakening the Department of Planning and the state’s land use and environmental progress. Hall was hopeful that “we will get the state back in its rightful place as a national leader for smart growth, transportation, and environmental progress.”
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