Lower Eastern Shore Collaborates with the MPCA on Citizen Planner Education

MPCA Corner

On February 21, more than 40 citizen and professional planners gathered at Salisbury University’s Guerrieri Student Union for the Maryland Planning Commissioners Association’s (MPCA) first regional workshop of 2020. The MPCA extends its gratitude to the university, Salisbury’s Mayor Jake Day, and Salisbury City Planner, Anne Roane, for sponsoring the event (and providing lunch!), helping craft the content of its educational sessions, and welcoming attendees from across the region with open arms. It was an early rise for those of us traveling from Central Maryland and beyond, but it was worth it.

Packed house at Salisbury MPCA Workshop

The workshop included engaging sessions on Board Recruitment and Diversity, Ethics and Ex Parte Communication, and Regional Affordable Housing efforts. While attendees shared lunch together, Mayor Day shared the innovative planning and community development efforts underway in Salisbury and the workshop wrapped up with a regional dialogue during which attendees learned from each other about successful processes and plans in their communities. Visit the MPCA regional workshops webpage to view and download the session presentations. More details about each below: 

Board Recruitment and Diversity

Presenter: Joe Griffiths, Local Assistance Training Manager, Maryland Department of Planning

This session presented best practices for recruiting diverse boards representative of Maryland’s communities. Participants learned about and discussed marketing efforts, push and pull factors making boards more attractive to new members, self-assessment procedures, and citizen education strategies.

Ethics and Ex Parte Communication

Presenters: Bill Butts, MPCA Vice President and Mt. Airy Planning Commissioner and Michael Sullivan, Esq. Law Offices of Cockey, Brennan, and Maloney

Bill opened this session engaging the audience on the topic of ethical citizen planning, but the star of the show was Michael, who reviewed legal requirements preventing board members from engaging in the decision-making process with one another outside of the public process. That may sound dry, but believe me, Michael had the room roaring with laughter! 

Regional Affordable Housing

Presenters: Sarah Lipkin Sularz, Southern Maryland Regional Planner, Maryland Department of Planning; Cheryl Meadows, Executive Director, Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.; Patrick Stewart, Senior Developer, Pennrose Development Corporation; and Tom Ayd, Principal, Green Street Housing, LLC

Sarah began the session describing the Maryland Department of Planning’s efforts to develop resources for jurisdictions to meet the requirements of 2019’s HB 1045, which mandates the inclusion of a housing element in comprehensive plans after June 1, 2020. Following this introduction, regional housing development and financing experts explored the comprehensive strategies of their organizations ensuring sustainable neighborhoods and fair, affordable housing for all Lower Eastern Shore residents. Topics included multi-family development, single family acquisition and rehab, effective partnerships, and homeownership incentives and education. 

If you are interested in the MPCA conducting a workshop in your region, please contact Joe Griffiths at joseph.griffiths@maryland.gov or 410-767-4553.

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