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…

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…

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. …

Prince George’s County Zoning Bill Raises Concerns

A proposed zoning law is receiving mixed responses from environmentalists and builders in Prince George’s County.  County Bill 80 states that on all  future development projects within the county, environmentally friendly features, such as trees, must be used to filter 100 percent of rain runoff.  The state of Maryland currently requires that new developments catch and filter 50 percent of all rain runoff. Counties are allowed to set higher standards if they so desire. With the bill set to be voted on October 26th, residents are voicing their opinions on the proposed legislation.  The Gazette reports

Environmental groups say most pollution in area waterways comes when rainfall washes rapidly off “impervious surfaces” such as area parking lots, roads and driveways without filtering into the ground.

The proposal calls for developers seeking to build new construction or redevelop old sites to submit detailed plans on how they will catch and filter all the rain that falls on the property before they can get a building permit. According to the proposal, when possible, developers should avoid clearing trees and leveling land for development, and builders would be encouraged to reduce paved surfaces and create landscape islands of trees and shrubs to handle storm water naturally.
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WYPR Radio Show Discusses Sustainable Growth in Economic and Environmental Context

An August 25 WYPR radio show, Midday With Dan Rodricks, discusses sustainable growth and potential flaws in Maryland's current economic growth model.  Panelists discuss sustainable growth from both an environmental and economic perspective, including the impact of growth on the Chesapeake Bay. Part 1 (MP3):  Features:  (1) Tom Horton, environmental author and journalist; (2) Andy Ratner, Director of Communications and Education, Maryland Department of Planning; and (3) John Kortekamp, Executive Vice President, Homebuilders Association of Maryland. Part 2 (…

MDP Seeks 2011 Smart, Green & Growing Partnership Award Nominations

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) is seeking nominations for its 2011 Smart, Green & Growing Partnership Awards. The Smart, Green & Growing Partnership Award Program is designed to recognize groups and individuals that have gone above and beyond to make Maryland a better place with exceptional smart growth projects and practices.    Awards are given in the following recognition categories: Greenbuilding Government Innovation The Florence Beck Kurdle Award for Community Activism and Achievement Development &…

Sustainable Growth Commission Members Appointed

On September 2 Governor Martin O'Malley announced his appointments to the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.  The Commission, enacted by  HB 474/SB 278 of 2010,  is a long-term replacement for the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland and will provide a forum for the State, local governments, and other stakeholder groups to discuss growth and land use issues.  The Commission is set to expire in 2020. The Commission has a total of 36 members.  Task Force…

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MDP Releases PlanMaryland Public Forum Results

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has published a summary of the group discussions and comments it received during its PlanMaryland public forums.  PlanMaryland:  What We're Hearing also provides demographic information on those who attended each of the 13 forums and shows how forum participants ranked each of the 12 planning visions that were adopted during the 2009 Session.  The three most important visions, as determined by the participants, are:  (1) Quality of Life and Sustainability:  A high quality of life…

MACo and County Planners Highlight PlanMaryland Concerns

On August 9, MACo and the Maryland Association of County Planning Officials sent a jointly signed letter to Maryland Secretary of Planning Rich Hall concerning the implementation of PlanMaryland.  While the letter notes that MACo and the county planners have cautiously supported PlanMaryland, it also raises three concerns that should be addressed prior to PlanMaryland's final draft.  The three concerns include: (1) PlanMaryland should be designed to provide a macro-level view of growth in the State and…

Sustainable Communities Rehabilitation Tax Credit Available For Commercial Properties

The Maryland Historical Trust   is now accepting applications for more than $10 million in Sustainable Communities Tax Credits for commercial rehabilitation projects in eligible communities.  The deadline for commercial project applications is September 15, 2010.  The Sustainable Communities Rehabilitation Tax Credit is available for commercial (income-producing) properties including office, retail, rental housing, etc. at different credit levels based on property type:  20% credit for "certified historic structures" 25% credit for "certified historic structures" that are high-performance…

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