MACo Opposes Proposed Construction Prohibitions in Rural Legacy Areas

MACo sought an unfavorable ruling to House Bill 1241 on March 23 before the House Economic Matters Committee.   The bill, sponsored by  Delegate Dana Stein, would prohibit a variety of uses in a Rural Legacy Area if they exceed 5 acres, including a shopping center, an electric power plant or substation, or any other nonagricultural use.  At the hearing, the sponsor offered amendments removing the nonagricultural use provision from the bill. MACo Associate Director Les…

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MACo Opposes Broad Ban on Septic Development

A MACo panel testified in opposition to House Bill 1107 and Senate Bill 846, before the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 11.  The bills, sponsored by Delegate Steve Lafferty and Senator Paul Pinsky embody Governor Martin O'Malley's State of the State proposal to ban the use septic systems in major subdivisions.  The bills, entitled the "Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2011," would prohibit the use of septic systems on…

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Governor’s Septics Proposal – Heading for Study? Or Showdown?

Today's Baltimore Sun discusses the "roadblock" facing the Governor's proposed limits on septic-based development, as the Chair of the House's Environmental Matters Committee has suggested that the bill be referred for more complete study over the interim. However, contrary to some earlier reports (and the discussion at MACo's Legislative Committee yesterday), it now appears that the Governor will continue to press for the bill's passage in this year's legislative session. From the Sun coverage: Del.…

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Makeover Montgomery Conference to Address Smart Growth Solutions

Suburban areas throughout the nation are working to find effective means to address population increases, changing housing preferences, and growing infrastructure costs, all while making communities more sustainable. The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, the Montgomery County Planning Department, and the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland are co-hosting a two-day conference entitled Makeover Montgomery: Innovative Strategies for Rethinking America's Suburbs Conference. Conference topics include: Planning tools to…

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MACo Briefs Environmental Matters Committee on Land Use Challenges

MACo Associate Director Leslie Knapp and Howard County Director of Planning and Zoning Marsha McLaughlin were joined by two Maryland Municipal League (MML) representatives in discussing past and present local government land use and environmental priorities before the House Environmental Matters Committee on January 26.  Mr. Knapp and the presenters highlighted the significant amount of local government mandates and responsibilities that have been passed onto local governments since 2006, the budget challenges facing local governments,…

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Report Questions Effectiveness of Smart Growth

A January 6 Baltimore Sun article discusses a recently released report by the National Center for Smart Growth Reasearch and Education that examines the impact that Smart Growth has had on Maryland's growth and development patterns over the last 13 years.  The report notes that while there has been positive gains in land preservation and development around transit areas, it is unclear if Smart Growth has had a significant impact on reducing sprawl or traffic congestion. Gerrit Knaap,…

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Enhanced Local Building Codes Recommended for Maryland’s Coastal Regions

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has recommended that local governments should strengthen and enhance their building codes in coastal areas of the State.  The Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Reform Act of 2008 (HB 1353) required DHCD to review current building codes and "develop enhanced codes for coastal regions of the State that promote disaster-resistant construction in the coastal regions of the State."  DHCD released a report of its findings and recommendations on October 1. The report…

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DHCD Reports on Local Government Fee Waivers for Affordable Housing

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has released a report detailing the efforts of local governments to waive or reduce building permit and impact fees for lower income housing projects.  House Bill 742/Senate Bill 281 of 2008 authorized or clarified the authority of local governments to waive or modify building permit, construction, impact, and rehabilitation fees for affordable housing projects.  The bills also required DHCD to report to the General Assembly by October 1, 2010 on which local…

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Sustainable Growth Commission Holds First Meeting

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission held its first meeting on October 26 in Baltimore City.  The Commission is a long-term advisory body set to look at land use and growth issues in the State.  It replaces the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland which sunsets in December 2010.  The Commission consists of 36 members and includes representatives from State and local governments, as well as key stakeholder areas including agriculture, builders, education, and the…

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Makeover Montgomery Land Use Conference Seeks Presentation Proposals

  The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education,  Montgomery County Planning Department, and the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland are co-hosting the Makeover Montgomery:  Innovative Strategies for Rethinking America's Suburbs conference from April 14-16, 2011 in Silver Spring.  In preparation for the conference, the hosts are seeking research and presentation proposals  on planning, implementation, and financing of Smart Growth redevelopment and infrastructure.  Proposals must be submitted by November 5th  at 5:00 PM. …

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