Register for the Next Sustainable Growth Commission Webinar

Join the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission for a videoconference update on various topics of interest to local planners and officials. The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission will host a virtual meeting to discuss various items including Housing Element Models and Guidelines, Solar Facility Siting Guidance, and the Census 2020 Self-response Dashboard. From the event page: Established by the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission makes recommendations on growth and development issues and celebrates smart…

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Resources for Planners During COVID-19 Crisis

Planetizen has compiled an extensive list of resources and tools that planners can utilize during the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 has challenged many public policy departments to look for new ways to combat the spread of the disease, and may also be changing the way professionals plan for the future. Planetizen has put together an article that includes new mapping resources, data visualization tools, and links to innovative ways jurisdictions throughout the country…

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MALPF Extends Ag Preservation Application Deadline

The Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) has extended the deadline for FY21 easement applications. Landowners hoping to receive easements in the FY21 round of awards from MALPF now have until May 15 to turn in their applications. MALPF awards conservation easements to landowner applicants annually. The program uses State and County funds to purchase development rights in perpetuity to quality agricultural land, with the goal of preserving enough farmland to maintain the viability of…

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High Court Upholds Local Zoning Authority in Harford Takings Case

Maryland’s highest court ruled Friday that Harford County will not have to pay $45.4 million to a plaintiff who sought to develop a rubble landfill thirty years ago near Havre de Grace. The Maryland Court of Appeals last week upheld the lower court’s reversal of the award to landowner Maryland Reclamation Associates (MRA) handed down by Harford County Circuit Court in 2018. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals last year ruled for Harford County in…

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Counties Promote Census Day… on Twitter

Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for education, health, transportation, housing, community services, and job training. Moreover, businesses and industries decide where to locate new facilities and services based on census data, creating new jobs and promoting economic growth. An accurate census count, or lack thereof, has a lasting effect on counties, particularly when it comes to the distribution of federal funds. An under-counted population may lead to a…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

This post summarizes the status of various planning and zoning bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. Planning and zoning is an integral function of county governments, and an area that spurs a high level of interaction with residents and business owners. In its planning and zoning advocacy, MACo seeks to protect the ability of local governments – those closest to the people and with the most insight into local…

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U.S. Census Bureau to Suspend Field Operations Until April 1

The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that it will suspend field operations until April 1 in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The bureau will refocus its resources on phone calls instead of in-person visits. Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for education, health, transportation, housing, community services, and job training. Moreover, businesses and industries decide where to locate new facilities and services based on census…

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Modest Homes Act Passes House With Amendments

HB 1406 The Planning for Modest Homes Act of 2020 has passed the Maryland House of Delegates 99-35, and has been referred to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Initially, MACo opposed the bill as it would have required all counties to arbitrarily amend their comprehensive zoning plans to allow triplexes in areas zoned for single-family housing. HB 1406 has since been amended to require that comprehensive plans, to the extent practicable, include…

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Counties Oppose Removal of Local Permitting Authority for Electric Fences

On March 12, 2020, MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu and Bill Jorch, from Maryland Municipal League, testified before the Senate Finance Committee to oppose SB 883 (CF HB 1216) – Business Regulation – Security Systems – Battery-Charged Fences. This bill, proposed by businesses wanting to avoid the permitting processes some counties require, would restrict local permitting authority and oversight over electric security fences. From the MACo Testimony: In Maryland, zoning regulations, permitting requirements, and code enforcement are…

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