Planning Assistance in Action

The State of Maryland is famous for its forward-thinking planning and integrated community of professional and citizen planners. Dating back multiple decades, state leaders have worked tirelessly to preserve and build upon the Maryland we all cherish. One of the essential means to accomplish this is through outreach and education. Communities best understand the assets that they can build upon, the barriers that must be overcome, and the assistance needed to meet their goals and objectives. This is an essential reality of good planning practice, and one the Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) is embracing with an outreach project in the Summer of 2017.

The MPCA is one of the innovative programs implemented by Maryland’s planning community. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Baltimore, the MPCA is a nonprofit educational and support organization dedicated to the continued training and professionalism of those who serve as members of planning commissions, planning boards, and boards of appeals. Many of these individuals are citizen planners serving as volunteers in Maryland’s counties and municipalities, and all members of one of these boards are part of the organization. MPCA members work to improve the quality of life for all Marylanders through planning, environmental protection, historic preservation, and growth management. The group also manages and oversees the Planning Commission Education Course available on the Maryland Department of Planning website.

Starting on June 2 at the Maryland American Planning Association’s Annual Meeting and Conference in Annapolis, the MPCA, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Planning, is kicking off a two month outreach effort to hear from Maryland’s planning community. The purpose of the project is to connect with planning staff, Planning Commissioners, and other officials (stakeholders) across the state of Maryland and solicit their feedback on how the MPCA can craft training and provide resources that will best support local planning efforts and needs. The MPCA values the feedback of stakeholders to create the most effective workplan and enhance its services. The MPCA will conduct this project with three consistent themes: Listening, Convenience, Greater Local Benefit. The MPCA wants to hear from stakeholders about how it can be a valuable resource to planning efforts around Maryland. This project will inform the MPCA workplan in a way that benefits local jurisdictions and meets their needs.Combining an online survey (coming June 2) with a series of seven outreach focus group meetings (shown below), the MPCA will gather information about Maryland’s planning boards and the training and technical assistance interests of jurisdictions. The MPCA is a valuable resource for planning in Maryland, but wants to be even better. It understands that if it is to improve, it must learn from those it serves. The MPCA invites anyone interested in planning in Maryland to participate; including planning commissioners, boards of zoning appeals members, elected officials, professional planners and other local staff members, non-profit and for-profit organization members, and citizens. The MPCA encourages attendance at any of the following outreach meetings:

  • Tuesday June 20: North Beach Town Hall, 8916 Chesapeake Ave, North Beach –  RSVP
  • Wednesday June 28: Winchester Hall, 12 E. Church St, Frederick – RSVP
  • Wednesday July 12: Lower Eastern Shore Regional Office of the Maryland Department of Planning, 201 Baptist St, Suite 24, Salisbury – RSVP
  • Tuesday July 18: Allegany College Continuing Education Building, 12401 Willowbrook Rd, Cumberland – RSVP
  • Wednesday July 26: Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture, 1114 Shawan Rd, Cockeysville – RSVP
  • Tuesday, August 1: Montgomery County Planning, 8787 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring – RSVP
  • Tuesday, August 8: Queen Anne’s County Planning and Zoning, 110 Vincit St, Centreville – RSVP

RSVPs are not required, but are requested to best prepare for each meeting. To learn more about the MPCA and the project, please visit the MPCA website at planning.maryland.gov/mpca or contact Joe Griffiths at joseph.griffiths@maryland.gov or 410-767-4553. We look forward to hearing from you.