Sustainable Growth Commission Celebrates Winners of 2020 Sustainable Growth Challenge

Planning Assistance in Action

The term sustainability is ubiquitous in the planning profession: sustainable development, sustainable processes, sustainable buildings, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable design, sustainable financing,  This list could go on for the rest of the article. As a concept, sustainability is framed by the three E’s of Environment, Economics, and Equity. The winning teams of this year’s Sustainable Growth Challenge exemplify all three.

On February 13, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission’s (the commission) Education Workgroup welcomed six teams of six to eight graduate and undergraduate students from Maryland to present projects completed during their 2019 semesters. Submissions represented the academic disciplines of landscape architecture, urban planning, applied agriculture, and business development. The March 23 award ceremony has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the celebration must go on! Continue reading

Maryland Universities Reveal High-Caliber Instruction and Student Planning

Planning Assistance in Action

by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner 
with Pat Keller, Adjunct Faculty, University of Maryland College Park, Urban Studies Program and Val Lazdins, Assistant Secretary for Planning Services

Middle River Development Area, from the Baltimore County Master Plan 2020.

Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) Assistant Secretary of Planning Services  Val Lazdins was recently invited to participate on a review panel for a land use planning course (URSP-603) at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, Urban Studies and Planning Program. Planning staff member, Kristen Humphrey, was similarly invited to attend an end of semester “super jury” at Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) Center for the Built Environment & Infrastructure Studies (BEIS). For Secretary and staff alike, learning about the work students from both programs are engaged in, and the planning solutions they propose for the urban and suburban challenges of the region, was illuminating . Continue reading

A Natural Partnership: The Maryland Department of Planning and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

Planning Assistance in Action

Did you know that the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) plays an important role in supporting the economies, environment, and vitality of the Appalachian Region? In addition to their departmental duties, Planning staff in the department’s Western Maryland office have also functioned as the Maryland State Program Managers of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for decades. In late 2019, David Cotton, Planning’s Director of the Western Maryland Regional Office, located in the city of Cumberland, was appointed as Maryland’s newest ARC  Program Manager (see the Meet the Planning Staff article, also in this edition of Planning Practice Monthly).

Screenshot of Appalachian Subregions Map taken from ARC website.

Continue reading

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