The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission holds its inaugural meeting at 1 p.m. today at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. in Baltimore. The Maryland General Assembly created the commission this year. It is a broad, impressive group that includes state and local officials and representatives of the development, environmental and agricultural communities from throughout our state. Its mission is to assess and advise on the progress of State, regional and local planning in Maryland to achieve the goals of State economic growth, resource protection and planning policy. Jon M. Laria, who led the state Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development during that group’s recent two-year term, is the commission chairman. Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley is the group’s vice chairwoman.

Sustainability is a critical concept for Maryland, which has a long history of foresight in land-use planning — from creating one of the first state planning commissions in the country in 1933 to nationally recognized, cutting-edge policies in Smart Growth. The Department of Planning and other agencies are currently developing the first-ever comprehensive strategy for sustainable growth called PlanMaryland. We’ve met with more than 1,000 Marylanders this year and canvassed hundreds more at the web site to gain input as the plan takes shape. The American Planning Association wrote earlier this year of the state’s commitment, “So promising is Maryland’s system – infiltrating smart growth throughout every department and virtually every action of state government – that federal smart growth is following the same model.”

Good luck to the commission as it begins its work today to help chart a smarter course for a prosperous – and sustainable – Maryland for the 21st century.