New County Leaders Learn About The Power of Planning

At MACo’s Winter Conference panelists discussed local governments planning and zoning powers. 

Planning and zoning policy is one of the primary tools of county governments. It can be used to shape the very look, smell, and feel of our communities and can be the driver or denier of development. Because of this importance, planning and zoning policy can also be hugely controversial. Look no further than the recent housing crisis to see critics point to local planning and zoning policy as a problem. Because of the power and controversy, it is critical to know the basics of planning and zoning policy and how counties can use it most effectively.

Two of the biggest takeaways from this session had to do with what isn’t in a counties control. Derick Berlage, former Montgomery County Council Member and current Deputy Director of Planning for Prince George’s County summed these points up best. In his presentation he described how several of the most successful development projects statewide were the result of decades of work and planning. No successful project happens overnight. Also while counties play and outsized role is planning and zoning policy, things like the health of local real estate markets and state level building regulations also have major impacts on things like housing and commerce. 


  • Amy Moredock, Planning and Zoning Director, Queen Anne’s County 
  • Derick Berlage, Deputy Director of Planning, Prince George’s
  • Brian Shepter, Deputy Director, Planning and Zoning , Howard County

Moderator: The Honorable MC Keegan-Ayer, Council President, Frederick County  

More about MACo’s Winter Conference: