Challenge Winners Shine at the Sustainable Growth Commission

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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.” More

Responding to your feedback, providing technical assistance for economic development and environmental priorities

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Planning Assistance in Action

Over the last 18 months, the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) with the Office of Smart Growth (Smart Growth) conducted over 84 meetings/listening sessions across the state on the new state development plan, A Better MarylandOne of the resounding themes was the need for technical assistance for smaller jurisdictions to help with economic development and environmental priorities. In an immediate response to address this need, Smart Growth and Planning collaborated with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in the summer of 2018 to secure a $50,000 grant for The University of Maryland’s (UMD) Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) to expand its services for Maryland’s communities. More

Bel Air Armory: A Main Street Asset

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Planning Assistance in Action

Over the past century and a half, the Maryland Army National Guard (Guard) constructed masonry armory buildings throughout the state, many with a striking castle-like resemblance. The purpose of these structures varied, but they generally provided space for training, administration, assembly, and other support services for the Guard. As the demands and training needs of the Guard have changed, so have the dimensions and designs of armories, now called readiness centers. But many of the older structures still stand. While many jurisdictions own these structures and have successfully adapted them to new uses, many still stand vacant. One reuse success story is found in Harford County’s Bel Air community. More

WalkWicomico Puts Planning on its Feet

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Planning Assistance in Action

Bipedalism (the ability to walk on two feet) is a core, if not the core, human characteristic. It allowed us to carry supplies and loved ones, and honed our hunting abilities. Millenia of community construction unfolded along the path of our feet, and this influence persists. Walkability is a common term in a planner’s vocabulary, an oft-cited goal in comprehensive plans, and a physical aspect of our communities attracting local families and tourists to Maryland’s streamside paths and main streets. We are comfortable addressing walkability objectives using design, land use, and infrastructure. Complete streets and shorter blocks draw pedestrians into engaging strolls along the sidewalk. An integrated mix of residential, commercial, employment, and entertainment uses make that short walk much more appealing, not to mention convenient. Traffic calming measures and pedestrian-centric intersections mute the threat posed by person and vehicle interaction. These are and will remain proven and effective planning strategies enhancing walkability. But what if the people never show up? What good is a wide sidewalk, or even better, one with outdoor seating at your favorite restaurant on a bright spring afternoon, if no one is there to use it? Planners can’t neglect the biggest part of the walkability equation – the walkers. More

A Better Maryland Initiates Second Round of Community Outreach

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Planning Assistance in Action

Following a summer of analysis and collaboration with our partners, the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) is once again set to traverse the state’s communities and continue the dialogue about A Better Maryland, the new state development plan. The outpouring of community engagement during the first round of 72 listening sessions was exhilarating. Thousands of Marylanders contributed feedback at public meetings and online. We received over 1,700 comments ranging in topics from infrastructure to housing! You can find them on our What We’ve Heard page.

Two overarching topics stood out. Reviewing the comments and the survey responses, it became clear that the environment and economic development form the core of what Marylanders want a state development plan to address. More

A Better Maryland Listening Sessions Drawing to a Close

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Planning Assistance in Action

21 out of 24. In the spirit of the NCAA basketball tournament, that equates to an excellent free throw percentage. It could also represent the number of daffodils blooming in your garden this spring. But at the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), it signifies the counties Planning has visited in its first round of listening sessions for the new A Better Maryland state deveopment plan. 21 out of 24 counties and Baltimore City. Talk about statewide coverage…
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A Better Maryland Reaches Milestone, but the Conversation Continues

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Planning Assistance in Action

Explaining A Better Maryland in Queen Anne’s County

On February 15, at the Wharves of Choptank Visitor Center in Denton, A Better Maryland passed the halfway point in its initial outreach period. The Caroline County listening sessions marked the 13th of 24 (all 23 counties and Baltimore City) engagement events that the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) is conducting through early spring. The purpose of the sessions is to discover how officials, staff, and members of the community think A Better Maryland, the new state development plan, can best assist them in advancing local planning, economic, and community development objectives. More

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