Planning Simplifies Annual Reporting; Encourages Localities to Embrace the Opportunity


Resources and Tools

For the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) and jurisdictions around the state, spring and early summer are the Local Government Annual Reporting season. While that might not sound like something to get excited about, it is a vital time of year for reviewing development progress, initiating conversations about the direction of Maryland’s communities, and reconnecting state and local planning officials. 

The Land Use Article of the Maryland State Code requires that Planning report on growth-related changes and permitting activity submitted annually by each jurisdiction with planning and zoning authority. This includes tracking of residential  and commercial development (if more than 50 new residential units permitted the jurisdiction has to provide more detail) , as well as the number of acres preserved through locally funded agricultural land preservation programs in Maryland’s counties. This information is compiled and analyzed to measure the state’s progress toward meeting its smart growth goals, such as concentrating new development in Priority Funding Areas (PFAs). The table below shows the number of counties and municipalities that have submitted annual reports over the last four years. After a surge in 2015, reporting has sagged in recent years. Planning encourages all Maryland jurisdictions to submit reports by July 1, 20201. Only local insight can help paint an accurate and helpful picture of planning efforts across the state. 

Year No. of Reports Counties Reporting Municipalities Reporting
2018 56 17 39
2017 51 17 34
2016 70 18 52
2015 97 20 77

Planning strives to make the annual reporting process as simple and straightforward as possible. Responding to feedback from previous reporting efforts, Planning created both short (fewer than 50 new residential permits) and long (greater than 50) form templates to help jurisdictions submit the requested information in a clear and concise manner. Jurisdictions should expect to receive reminder emails soon, which will also include links to these forms. Digital copies can be found on Planning’s Annual Report Tools webpage. In addition to the annual report, jurisdictions also need to complete and submit a 5-year Report at the midway point of their 10-year comprehensive plan review cycle. Don’t worry, we created a form for that as well. As part of this 5-year Report, jurisdictions are encouraged to identify obstacles in state law that discourage smart growth. 

The annual reporting process is more than pushing papers and stacking forms, it is also a time for meaningful review and dialogue in both large (Howard County: 2,114 new residential permits in 2018) and small (Town of Willards: 1 new residential permit) jurisdictions. The tools described above ask discussion provoking questions such as “Did your jurisdiction identify any recommendations for improving the planning and development process within the jurisdiction?” and “What are resources necessary for infrastructure inside the PFAs”? These questions are designed to spark a conversation between planning staff and local officials about development in their communities, almost like a regular check in. “Is this what our plan intended?”, “How are our growth areas performing?” This dialogue is the catalyst of great communities, and Planning encourages as much as possible. In fact, we want to join the conversation too. Perhaps spring and early summer are also the season of reflection.


1 23 Counties, Baltimore City, and 108 municipalities are required to submit annual reports to the Maryland Department of Planning

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