A Better Maryland Listening Sessions Drawing to a Close

Planning Assistance in Action

21 out of 24. In the spirit of the NCAA basketball tournament, that equates to an excellent free throw percentage. It could also represent the number of daffodils blooming in your garden this spring. But at the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), it signifies the counties Planning has visited in its first round of listening sessions for the new A Better Maryland state deveopment plan. 21 out of 24 counties and Baltimore City. Talk about statewide coverage…

Starting in Western Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore last November, the project team has worked its way inward through Maryland in what will ultimately be an initial series of 72 meetings with local officials, staff, and residents.  A Better Maryland’s bottom up approach identifies local priorities, which are as diverse as the Maryland landscape. Planning staff has enjoyed presenting in council chambers and town halls, walking the main streets of County seats, and dining in local hot spots. Special Secretary of Smart Growth, Wendi Peters, jokes that we should develop a Yelp review style portion for the final plan; rating all of the restaurants we have visited. Acting Secretary of Planning Rob McCord always gets the Shephard’s Pie. And don’t even ask if everyone prefers ice in their drinks.

While the listening sessions are winding down, Planning is ramping up its inreach to sister state agencies and statewide organizations like the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, The Maryland Municipal League, and the Maryland Association of Counties. The feedback received from Maryland stakeholders suggests that A Better Maryland should be an inter-agency plan, one that enhances public access to state resources and better coordinates the work of both state agencies and neighboring jurisdictions. Planning is compiling an inventory of state data resources and technical assistance, striving to better communicate and align what already exists with the expressed needs of jurisdictions. The project team will delve into the gaps and concentrate on areas in which new tools and processes need to be established.

As we move into the spring and summer of 2018, there are still multiple ways to engage in the effort.

The following listening sessions are scheduled for April and early May. Visit the project events page for more details.

Montgomery County: Monday, April 16
Charles County: Tuesday April 17
Prince George’s County: Early May: Details Forthcoming

The online survey is also still open, and will be for another month. The input from the survey is combined with the instant polling exercise completed at the listening sessions, providing a robust data set for analysis. See the percentage of responses by region (as of March 26) in the chart below. Look for survey updates and County summaries (coming soon) on the input page. Planning also organizes listening session discussion feedback on the input page of the project website, and will do so for every County. Visit abetter.maryland.gov  to see what others in the state are suggesting.

Even though the A Better Maryland roadshow might be putting the RV away for the summer, the work doesn’t stop, and the tour will start up again next fall and winter with another round of community workshops and engagement opportunities. Let us know your favorite dining spot so we can make sure to stop by and add it to our list of reviews.

To learn more about A Better Maryland and how you can get involved, please visit abetter.maryland.gov or contact Chuck Boyd at chuck.boyd@maryland.gov or 410-767-1401.

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