MDE Withdraws, Resubmits Nutrient Trading Regulations

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released draft regulations that would establish a water quality nutrient credit trading program on October 11, 2017. MACo’s concerns with the original draft version were limited and generally technical in nature. However, MDE recently announced the withdrawal of that version of the draft regulations and has resubmitted an amended draft that potentially raises additional county concerns.

There are four key changes in the amended version of the draft regulations:

  1. Water quality projects that received State or federal funding can still be sold to generate a credit but the credit amount will now be reduced/pro-rated because of the funding. Public funding from county or municipal sources is not subject to being pro-rated.
  2. Reduces the ability of wastewater treatment plants to participate in trading by increasing their qualifying nitrogen baseline from 3.5 mg/l to 3.0 mg/l.
  3. Adds an additional requirement that credits used in a locally impaired waterway must be generated within that waterway or upstream of the credit user’s discharge.
  4. Removes the option for an interstate trading pilot program.

MACo and county staff are reviewing the draft regulation changes and MACo will be offering a response shortly. The new public hearing date for the amended draft regulations is Monday, December 18, from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at MDE headquarters in Baltimore City.

MDE Nutrient Credit Trading Draft Regulations – Revised 2017-11-08

Counties Invited to Attend Launch of Purple Line Community Development Agreement

The National Center for Smart Growth is hosting an event to launch the Purple Line Community Development Agreement. The event will take place from 9:30 am – 11:00 am on November 28, 2017, at The Hotel at the University of Maryland (7777 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, Maryland 20740).

Attendance and parking are free but you must register as space is limited. Registrations are due by November 17. Coffee and check-in begin at 9:00 am.

From an email announcement about the event:

Hosted by the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth, this event will bring together the region’s leaders and representatives of public, private and community stakeholders to sign and launch Pathways to Opportunity: A Community Development Agreement for the Purple Line Corridor.  Join us in our work to stimulate innovative collaboration, focus community investment, and consider how your organization can play a role in achieving this shared vision.


  • University of Maryland President Wallace Loh
  • County Executive Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County
  • County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County
  • Purple Line Corridor Coalition Partners

With the Purple Line transit project already underway, we must take steps now to fully realize the benefits of this massive transit investment.  This shared commitment will shape efforts to create and sustain a unique transit corridor for decades and serve as a national model for purposeful and committed community development.  Our work is guided by the following goals:

  • Support and grow local businesses
  • Build a thriving labor market
  • Ensure housing choices for all
  • Support vibrant, sustainable communities

Useful Links

Click Here to Register

Purple Line Corridor Coalition Website

National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education Website

First Round of County Meetings for “A Better Maryland” Underway

MDP logo




As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has announced it will conduct outreach meetings for the new state development plan, A Better Maryland,  in each of Maryland’s 24 counties.  In a recent press release (2017-11-03) MDP stated that the first meeting was held in Garrett County on November 6. Pending meetings include St. Mary’s County (Nov. 28) and Wicomico County (Nov. 29).

From the press release:

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) is kicking off its new state development planning process, A Better Maryland, on Monday, November 6, in Oakland, Garrett County. In a series of 24 listening session outreach events in every Maryland County and Baltimore City during the winter and early spring of 2017-18, Planning will seek input from local government officials, Maryland residents, and other stakeholders.

A Better Maryland is a two-year project which was initiated by Governor Larry Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18 this past summer, with an expected completion date of July 2019.  Governor Hogan described the project as one aimed at “enriching the lives of Marylanders,” but also one that will “not supplant local planning and zoning authority.” Planning will work closely with local governments and other stakeholders, state agencies, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, the Maryland Municipal League, and the Maryland Association of Counties to develop and maintain a productive dialogue throughout the effort. The purpose of the listening sessions and the larger statewide dialogue is to engage and connect with Marylanders and get feedback about vital resources and information that A Better Maryland might include, and how it can help local governments and state agencies better meet their planning needs.

“The Hogan administration is committed to improving the coordination between state agencies and local government,” said Acting Secretary of Planning Robert McCord. “This thoughtful approach to planning will ensure continued economic growth, while conserving our state’s precious natural resources.”

A Better Maryland is an exciting opportunity for state and local governments, as well as Maryland residents, to work together, craft a shared vision for our state, and identify the path forward to achieve that vision,” explains Special Secretary for Smart Growth Wendi Peters.

Three meetings (elected officials, local staff, and the public) are scheduled for Garrett County on Monday, November 6, and additional meetings are scheduled for St. Mary’s County on November 28, and Wicomico County on November 29. Please visit A Better Maryland webpage at for more information and announcements of future meetings. If you have any questions about A Better Maryland, please contact Chuck Boyd, Director of Planning Coordination, ( 410-767-1401.

Useful Links

A Better Maryland Webpage

Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of A Better Maryland State Development Plan

To learn more about what A Better Maryland means for counties and perspectives on what the Plan should contain, attend the “Planning Ahead: Preparing for the New State Development Plan” session on December 7 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Learn How Maryland Is Responding to Climate Change at #MACoCon

Don’t get caught out in the rain! Learn how Maryland plans on addressing the effects of climate change and reducing its current and future greenhouse gas emissions at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference.

Rising Tides: Charting Maryland’s New Climate Change Path


While Maryland is on track to reach its previous greenhouse gas reduction goals of 25% by 2025, the State recently set a new goal of 40% by 2030. The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is now considering what mitigation actions need to be taken to reach the 40% goal (and even surpass it). Additionally, the Commission is also determining what land use and adaptation strategies should be taken to address the current and pending effects of climate change, such as flooding and severe weather. Many of these policies will have direct consequences for counties. Panelists will discuss pending mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change and offer their views on how Maryland and the counties should be confronting this issue.


  • Benjamin Grumbles, Chair, Maryland Commission on Climate Change and Secretary of the Environment, Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Mike Tidwell, Co-Chair, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change and Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Michael Powell, Co-Chair, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change, and Member, Gordon Feinblatt LLC

Date & Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Maryland Predicted to Lose Nearly 62,000 Homes Due to Sea Level Rise

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-10-28) reported on data analysis done by the real estate firm Zillow that shows Maryland is set to lose 61,548 homes due to sea level rise. The aggregate value of the lost homes is around $ 19 billion. For the analysis, Zillow counted a home as “submerged” if its ground floor would be flooded if sea levels rise six feet by 2100. The article noted the federal government has released projections on sea level rise ranging from one foot to eight feet. The Zillow analysis was based on average global sea level rise and did not factor in specific local coastal conditions. From the article:

Hear more about climate change, sea level rise, and how Maryland plans to move forward on climate change issues from the panel “Rising Tides: Charting Maryland’s New Climate Change Path” at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference.

Advisory Group Finalizing Draft Clean Water Commerce Regs

An advisory group composed of diverse stakeholders, including MACo, has been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to finalize draft regulations to implement the Clean Water Commerce Act (HB 417 / SB 314)  that was passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2017 Session. The group nearly completed its work after meeting on October 24, 2017.

HB 417/SB 314 allows MDE to purchase nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment load reductions using monies from the Bay Restoration Fund’s wastewater treatment account. MDE may purchase reductions in FY 2018 through FY 2021. The purchases are limited to $4 million in FY 2018, increasing to a maximum of $10 million for FY 2020 and FY 2021.  The purchases: (1) can only be made after funding any eligible costs for wastewater treatment plants to enhanced nutrient removal; (2) cannot be from the agricultural sector; and (3) must be for reductions created on or after July 1, 2017. In addition, MDE must adopt regulations prior to the purchase of any load reductions that specify that a purchased reduction should provide the lowest cost per pound in reduction and be purchased in accordance with a competitive process.

Besides MACo, the advisory group includes representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML), environmental groups, developers, wastewater treatment plant operators, best management practice installers, and other state agencies.

The draft regulations address the purchase process MDE must undertake, including factors MDE will consider when making purchase decisions and  establishes the baselines for determining load reductions. One remaining area of contention is the eligibility of load reductions from wastewater treatment plants. Both MACo and MML support allowing wastewater treatment plants to be part of the competitive bidding process.

Once finalized, the draft regulations will be submitted for full public comment. For further information, please contact MACo Legal and Policy Analyst Les Knapp at or 410.269.0043.

Outreach Effort Announced for “A Better Maryland” State Development Plan

A Maryland Planning Blog article (2017-10-25) announced the start of official outreach efforts for the new State Development Plan, now named “A Better Maryland.” A Better Maryland will replace the previous State Development Plan, PlanMaryland, that was recently repealed by Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan. The outreach will be conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning. The Department also announced the launch of a new A Better Maryland webpage.

From the blog article:

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) wants to hear from you about the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland. When we say “you,” we mean “you.” In a series of 24 Listening Session events (local staff, elected officials, and the public) in every Maryland County and Baltimore City over the winter and early spring of 2017-18, Planning will be coming to your area. We encourage everyone interested in fostering good planning, enhancing our quality of life, ensuring responsible growth, and protecting our resources to join us for a statewide dialogue.

But what is a State Development Plan? Maryland law gives Planning the responsibility of periodically updating the State’s plan, which is currently five years old. Until recently, local governments were required to review their comprehensive plan every six years to see if they were still addressing local needs. State government should do the same. While the law provides guidance on State Development Plans in Title 5, Subtitle 6 of the State Finance & Procurement Article, it does not dictate what should be in one nor how it should be organized.

This is where the outreach effort comes in.  The purpose of the Listening Sessions and the larger statewide dialogue is to engage and connect with the public, local governments, state agencies, and other stakeholders to solicit feedback about vital resources and information that A Better Maryland might include, and how it can help local governments and state agencies better meet their planning needs. Outreach will inform what A Better Maryland should contain from all perspectives, and we need to hear from you what those perspectives are! Planning wants to stress that the development of the content, format, and direction of A Better Maryland will be a collaborative effort, and at this point they are not predetermined. Two things are for certain, the plan will be neither a regulatory document nor a statewide comprehensive plan.

The following themes will guide A Better Maryland:

  1. Listening: Planning wants to hear from the public, local governments, state agencies and other stakeholders about how a State Development Plan can be a valuable resource at the state and/or local level.
  2. Identify Local Priorities: The outreach will help determine what issues and information should be included in A Better Maryland. This outreach process will ensure that local priorities are factored into its development.
  3. Identify Information Sources: The outreach effort will also help to identify what State or local data sources (such as development activity and preservation efforts) should be evaluated and tracked over time to inform state and local government decision-making.
  4. Involvement in the Process: Planning will solicit widespread involvement stressing local participation in developing A Better Maryland. The success of this effort depends on assistance from you.
  5. Utility: The goal of this project is to develop a State Development Plan that will be useful in advancing the interests of the public, local governments, state agencies, and other stakeholders and be a valuable resource for years to come.

A Better Maryland is a two-year project which was initiated by Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18 this past summer, with an expected completion date of July 2019.  Planning will work closely with local governments and other stakeholders, state agencies, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, the Maryland Municipal League, and the Maryland Association of Counties to develop and maintain a productive dialogue throughout the effort and provide multiple opportunities for feedback. We want to listen, check with you to make sure we heard you correctly, listen some more, and then check again; all before the completion of a final plan.

For further information about A Better Maryland, contact Director of Planning Coordination Chuck Boyd at 410.767.1401 or

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of A Better Maryland State Development Plan

To learn more about what A Better Maryland means for counties and perspectives on what the Plan should contain, attend the “Planning Ahead: Preparing for the New State Development Plan” session on December 7 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Community Gardens and Food System Plans: Creating A Win

A Sustainable City Network article (2017-10-25) discussed how two very different local governments (the City of Madison, Wisconsin, and Douglas County, Kansas) went about implementing community gardens and food system plans.

City of Madison, Wisconsin

The article noted that the City of Madison has supported community gardens since the 1990s. In 2014, the City partnered with the nonprofit Community Groundworks and the Dane County/University of Wisconsin Extension to form the Gardens Network. The Network took on the task of creating a community garden in the Brittingham Park area of the City. Overcoming intial community resistance and implementation challenges, the community garden helped revitalize Brittingham Park and serves as an anchor for other types of events. From the article:

[Brittingham Park] is situated downtown between a traditional single-family neighborhood and a multi-family area with a high density of immigrant and lower income families.

When in 2010 there began to be pressure for more garden space downtown, Brittingham Park was identified as a possible location. The high-density sections of the neighborhood had some safety issues in part because of low foot traffic through the area. Local police saw a community garden as a good way to bring more people into the area, [Madison City Food Policy Council Chair Nan] Fey said. From the social equity lens, it was seen as a way to improve lives for a Hmong community living in the neighborhood, for whom gardening is a traditional activity.

However, there was some resistance from other residents in the single-family area of the neighborhood. Fey said some were worried a garden would be messy and attract the “wrong kind of people” to the park. In 2012, community meetings began and the city council representative from the neighborhood was not supportive. …

In the fall of that year, the mayor proposed a policy of citing gardens in parks and the city moved forward. In 2013 the Brittingham Park site was chosen for a garden, and planting started that June. Deep waterlines were installed, but no fence surrounded the vegetables. “The bunnies feasted,” Fey said.

In 2014, she said, a low cost, “aesthetically pleasing rabbit fencing” was installed. Safety in the park is much improved and there is good publicity in the local paper, according to Fey. “Neighbors formerly opposed have come to appreciate the garden,” she added. Now the garden includes 38 spots and four raised beds, and it has a waiting list. The Hmong and elderly have priority for obtaining a spot.

There are also public art displays and seating areas. “Brittingham Park is a tremendous success story in town,” Fey said. “Community gardens are about growing more than vegetables.”

Douglas County, Kansas

According to the article, Douglas County has a population of 118,000, with 94,000 of that total living in the City of Lawrence. Lawrence houses the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University. The article explained how the  Douglas County Food Policy Council (FPC) worked to create a food systems plan to serve the entire county. The FPC was created by the County Commission in 2010 and was turned into a joint County/City partnership in 2013.

When faced with this experiment in equitable food systems planning, [Douglas County Food Policy Coordinator Helen] Schoes said, “the commissioners didn’t want just another ‘foodie liberal’ pat yourself on the back plan from Lawrence.” Instead, they wanted to be sure all voices were at the table. The 23-members group includes a no-till farmer and cattle producer, a state policy advocate, a retail food outlet, a youth representative, and people representing senior food nutrition programs, the health department, a farmers market, and sustainability advocates.

In spite of a potentially unwieldy structure, Schnoes said, the group notched several major accomplishments, including leveraging an initial $6,800 investment into more than a $1 million, and the development of a food systems plan, which was incorporated into the county’s updated comprehensive plan. It sets a framework for the next 10 years to guide policy changes by local governments, shape the work of the FPC, and inspire community actions and partnerships.

Schnoes said the food systems plan defines “how we produce, buy, eat, and dispose of food.” It recognizes that the “journey our food takes from field to plate is influenced by eco-systems, education, culture, funding, research and public policies.” …

From this work the FPC has developed goals to strive for in the future:

Goal 1: Agricultural producers, food entrepreneurs, and food sector workers thrive in our regional economy.

Goal 2: As our cities grow, we prioritize natural resource conservation and maintain working lands to promote soil health.

Goal 3: We build and design our communities to ensure food access, foster health, and eliminate food deserts.

Goal 4: Our community fosters an equitable food system.

Goal 5: Our community eliminates waste in our local food system.

Schnoes advises other communities to “keep the goal to build an equitable food system front and center. Don’t assume you know what communities need — go work with them first and find out.”

We’ve Got Your Back: Counties Collaborate

At this year’s MACo Winter Conference learn how to maximize intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to achieve the best results for county residents. Our general session, “We’ve Got Your Back: Counties Collaborate,” will explore a range of issues including mutual aid agreements, cooperative purchasing, and inter-jurisdictional transfers of development rights.

Title: We’ve Got Your Back: Counties Collaborate

Description: Every day, county officials grapple with challenges that exceed the scope of their individual county borders and require collective action. Tackling public safety crises, addressing public health epidemics, and coordinating regional planning or transportation needs are just a few of the situations where counties need to look to each other and other government and private entities to find solutions to shared challenges. In this session, panelists will discuss a variety of programs in which silos are broken and bridges are built to help county governments form partnerships to successfully deliver services to meet community needs.


      • The Honorable Allan Kittleman, County Executive, Howard
      • Debbie Groat, CPPO, C.P.M., Coordinator, Regional Purchasing
        Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee
      • Chris Dellinger, Public Sector Solutions Energy & Sustainability Services, Schneider Electric
      • Joseph Mason, Senior Vice President, Davenport & Company
      • James Alfree, Assistant Chief, Department of Emergency Services, Queen Anne’s County

Moderator: The Honorable Ike Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 9:00 am – 10:15 am

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

E&T Committee Holds Open Work Session on Forest Conservation Act, Solar Siting

The House Environment and Transportation (E&T) Committee has announced it will be holding an open work session on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, to further study: (1) the Forest Conservation Act; and (2) solar energy and land management. The Committee will likely consider whether legislation in either of these areas is warranted for the 2018 Session.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Forest Conservation Act reform was a major initiative by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other environmental groups during the 2018 Session. Likewise, the siting of utility scale solar and other generation facilities resulted in legislation, including a successful MACo Legislative Initiative that gave local governments a greater voice in the siting process. However, legislation was also considered that would have allowed solar development on preserved agricultural lands. (HB 863 of 2017).

The E&T work session is set to begin a 1:00 pm and will be similar to a bill hearing in that interested parties may sign up and testify on either or both topics. A witness sign-up sheet will be located in the E&T hearing room (Room 251 in the House Office Building) starting at 9:00 am. If you want to bring handouts, 30 copies are required.

MACo plans to testify on both issues.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Forest Conservation Act

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of MACo Energy Siting Initiative

HB 863 of 2017

E&T Committee Web Page