The Maryland Volkswagen Mitigation Plan: $2.5 Million in Awards and More Opportunities to Come

Planning Assistance in Action

by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Development and Infrastructure Planner
with Tim Shepherd, MDE, Division Chief, Mobile Sources Control Program, MDE

Whether or not we are Volkswagen owners, most of us will remember the VW emissions scandal – sometimes called “dieselgate” – that was revealed to the world a little more than four years ago. Fewer will be able to recall, however, what occurred once the publicity died down and the dust settled after the numerous lawsuits that followed.

In 2014 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) noticed significant differences in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions between European and U.S. models of VW’s diesel vehicles. Researchers for CARB identified that emissions were considerably lower during regulatory testing than they were during real-world driving. In response to the discovery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) found Volkswagen to be in violation of the Clean Air Act in 2015 and they, and regulators around the world, began to investigate. Continue reading

Local Spotlight: The CSM Velocity Center in Indian Head, MD: A Great Example of How Project Collaboration Gets the Job Done

Planning Assistance in Action

An Interview with Dr. Maureen Murphy, President of the College of Southern Maryland by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Development and Infrastructure Planner and Sarah Lipkin Sularz, Regional Planner

Part of our mission in publishing Planning Practice Monthly is to highlight the great work of jurisdictions across the state. As we so often see, the projects and initiatives creating the largest impact are those in which a variety of stakeholders from the community are involved from the earliest stages of planning through to implementation.

Finding the right project and getting a myriad of groups and community members fully invested is not always easy, despite being the key to making things work. However, when a project is identified that meets the needs of stakeholders, the results speak for themselves. The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Velocity Center, a collaboration in the town of Indian Head, Charles County between CSM and numerous non-profit, public and private entities, is one such project. The Velocity Center is a shared educational, technological, and maker space, being constructed on the site of a vacant commercial center, which is designed to spur coordination and mutual benefit between the community, the Navy, and CSM. We reached out to Dr. Maureen Murphy, President of CSM, to find out more about the project’s evolution from concept to final construction: Continue reading

Now for Something Completely Different…or How About Some Good News?

Planning Assistance in Action

By Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Infrastructure and Development Planner
and Angelo Bianca, Deputy Director of Air and Radiation Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment

We hear so much these days about humanity’s negative environmental impact, from our contribution to climate change, the dumping of plastic in oceans, and the reduction of species diversity across the globe, ushering many into extinction through the deforestation of jungles and the poaching of exotic animals for trophies. Some also fear the uncertainty around federal environmental regulations may threaten to send us backward in our domestic and global efforts to keep the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we cultivate safe from contamination. Continue reading

Maryland Hosts 48th Annual Archeology Field Session

Planning Assistance in Action

Drone image of the 2019 Archeological Field Session Site (Photo Credit: Ryan Craun of M-NCPPC)

Have you ever dreamed what it might be like to join in on an archeological dig? The idea evokes images of Indiana Jones, Egyptian treasure, large rolling boulders and…snakes, right? But one doesn’t have to travel very far to have an authentic brush (pun intended) with an active dig and the chance to help unearth some astonishing artifacts. Hopefully, sans snakes. Continue reading

Regional Planner Recognized for her Tireless Work

Planning Assistance in Action

Back in November of 2018, Planning wrote a newsletter article about the department’s work on the WalkWicomcio project. Tracey Gordy, one of the department’s Regional Planners for the Lower Eastern Shore, spearheaded the department’s role in that effort, and her dedication has been noticed! As part of Wicomico County’s recognition of National Public Health Week (April 1-7), the County Health Department awarded Tracey the 2019 Outstanding Public Health Leader Award. Tracey received her award at a Salisbury University ceremony on April 3. Continue reading

Public Comment Period Now Open for Maryland’s Draft Phase III WIP

Planning Assistance in Action

Most people living in the Mid-Atlantic region know the Chesapeake Bay as the source of Maryland Blue crabs, oysters and countless opportunities for recreation. However, most people are probably not aware that with a watershed covering more than 64,000 square miles, fed by more than 150 rivers and streams and spanning parts of six states and Washington D.C., the Bay is the largest estuary in North America and one of the most productive bodies of water in the world Continue reading

Challenge Winners Shine at the Sustainable Growth Commission

Planning Assistance in Action

Some of the most creative approaches to sustainability are not originating in local planning departments, state offices, or even the nonprofit world, but from Maryland’s students. On Monday, March 25, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission (Commission) celebrated the excellent work of four groups of students in the award ceremony for the 2019 Sustainable Growth Challenge.

“The work of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission is fulfilling, vital, and impactful,” said Commission Chair Susan Summers. “I take my role as its Chair very seriously, but I have the most fun each year when college students from around the state present their award winning projects to the Commission. You can tell they take their work and studies very seriously as well. The day inspires greater enthusiasm in our effort as an advisory body, and encourages us to maintain and strengthen our engagement with the next generation of Maryland’s leaders in sustainability.” Continue reading