The Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) initiated the regional workshop program in the spring of 2019 to supplement its annual conference and bring citizen and professional planners together to learn from each other and share the unique joys and challenges of planning in their region. Since that time, the MPCA has hosted regional workshops in Hagerstown, Annapolis, Salisbury, Denton, and most recently on January 31, 2023, in La Plata, Charles County.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the MPCA from hosting a few regional workshops, but even with that barrier, the organization hosted virtual workshops on housing and comprehensive planning in September 2020 and July 2021, respectively. You can review presentation and notes from previous workshops on the MPCA Website.
The La Plata workshop was a fantastic success, thanks to the support of the Town of La Plata Director of Planning, Jeanine Harrington, AICP. Jeanine and La Plata gave out special MPCA tumblers to attendees – who doesn’t like a good tumbler? Approximately 25 citizen and professional planners attended from across the southern Maryland region, from Annapolis to St. Mary’s County.
Jeanine and Maryland Department of Planning staff presented information on planning efforts in La Plata, affordable housing planning, the connection between zoning and growth, citizen planning academies, compatible use planning, and the MPCA’s new Peer Leadership Network, described in this month’s Planning Practice Monthly (visit the La Plata regional workshop webpage to access the meeting materials). After the presentations, MPCA President Danny Winborne, a member of the Gaithersburg Planning Commission, guided attendees through a discussion that included the following questions:
- From the standpoint of local planning needs and priorities, over the next 10 years, what topics and issues do you feel will be similar to the previous 10 years? What topics and issues will be different?
- What successes have you had in the past five years that we can learn from? What were the components of that success?
- Have you engaged in any regional or local planning coordination efforts? If so, what were they and what were the results? If not, what topics and issues would benefit from regional and local coordination?
Per the MPCA’s Strategic Plan, the organization’s mission is to educate its members, support the efficiency and effectiveness of local planning boards, and improve the quality of life for all Marylanders through comprehensive planning, environmental protection, historic preservation, and growth management. The MPCA believes regional workshops, bringing together citizen and professional planners that share a regional geography, economy, and community development needs, is a vital tool to advance this mission.
To learn more about the MPCA regional workshop program, or to request a workshop in your region, please contact Joe Griffiths, Local Assistance and Training Manager for the Maryland Department of Planning, at email@example.com.