New! Planning is Updating Our Statewide Land Use Map

Resources and Tools

by Deborah Sward, Assistant Manager, Geospatial Data & Analysis
with Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) is initiating the 2020 update to its statewide Land Use Map, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) product formerly known as the “Land Use Land Cover” map. The Land Use Map will show generalized locations of developed land, including varying densities of residential land and commercial, industrial, institutional, other developed, and undeveloped resource land uses.

Planning and other public and private stakeholders may use the map in various ways, including:

  • Land use planners may choose to map or calculate the distribution of existing land uses for comprehensive plans;
  • Watershed planners may combine it with other land use and land cover datasets (e.g., as forests or wetlands) to model nutrient and other pollution runoff into the Chesapeake Bay;
  • Resource conservation planners may opt to target land preservation measures on undeveloped resource lands that have development capacity and/or development pressure; and
  • Transportation planners may wish to model land use types or identify potential land use impacts of a proposed transportation project.

Planning developed previous versions of the product in 1973, 2002, and 2010. For the 2020 update, Planning has access to new data including statewide parcel polygons attributed with tax assessment parcel data, as well as the Chesapeake Conservancy’s forthcoming 2017/2018 high-resolution land cover data. These will enable Planning to further automate map development and standardize rules for delineating land uses.

Additionally, nearly 100 representatives from various levels of government and the private sector attended a webinar hosted by Planning on May 12 to contribute ideas and feedback for the proposed 2020 update. Planning is considering changes to the previous classification scheme such as consolidating the classifications for all undeveloped areas (i.e., agriculture, forest, wetland, water, and barren land) under a single classification for “undeveloped resource land or water” and deferring to other available GIS datasets from the Chesapeake Conservancy and/or federal agencies for specific information about the land use and land cover in undeveloped areas. Planning may also expand the transportation classification to include additional types of roadways besides primary highways and controlled access highways. Additional changes may be proposed based on further stakeholder feedback.

To view the webinar archive or subscribe to our project email list, please see visit our website. Planning is also collecting feedback through a questionnaire. Information submitted via the questionnaire will help Planning better understand how various users utilize the land use map and consider their ideas and feedback as we formulate methodology changes discussed on the webinar and proceed with the update.

Planning anticipates completing a draft of the map in late 2020 or early 2021. Given unforeseen events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a preliminary schedule and may be subject to change.

For questions, please contact Deborah Sward, Assistant Manager, Geospatial Data and Analysis, at

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