Maryland State Planning Secretary Hall discusses sustainable future ‘PlanMaryland’ initiative

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PlanMaryland, characterized as “design-build,” is the State’s first comprehensive plan for sustainable growth and development, Maryland State Department of Planning Secretary of Planning Richard Eberhart Hall told GBC members at a Built Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting on July 28.

“There can’t always be talk about plans from 30,000 feet,” said Hall. “We need to talk about it on the ground ‘community design’ level.” Oftentimes, the State throws road blocks and local officials need the will to see plans through. “This is considered a ‘design-build’ plan because it’s something that’s never been done before.”

Over the next 20 years, there will be nearly 1,000,000 more people, more than 400,000 additional households and more than 600,000 new jobs coming to Maryland, said Hall. “Where will all these people live and work, how will they get to their jobs, and what benefits and impact will this have on our existing communities, our natural resources and our transportation systems?”

PlanMaryland proposes to build on existing State and local plans and programs toward a new level of accountability from State agencies and local governments, said Hall. It will establish targets for development and resource conservation that are consistent with State and local goals. The targets will be supported by plans and programs of both State and local governments. State agencies, through their capital and non-capital resources, programs, and procedures will establish a priority on these common areas, he said.

Planning for the long-term is important with Maryland experiencing a significant population increase and corresponding impacts on natural resources and infrastructure such as roads and water supply. PlanMaryland will offer reasonable and attainable solutions. The 10 broad goals are to:

1. Encourage sustainable development and protect quality of life
2. Develop land more consistent with growth in population
3. Strengthen existing cities and communities
4. Protect farmland
5. Preserve natural, historic and cultural resources
6. Reduce automobile dependency
7. Increase access to transit, walking and bicycling
8. Concentrate jobs in existing cities and communities and strengthen economic development
9. Increase housing affordability
10. Minimize residential land consumption outside of existing communities

Support for the planning process has begun through a variety of stakeholder outreach meetings and public forums. A preliminary draft plan will be prepared later this year and the final plan completion date is slated for Spring/Summer 2011.

Video clips from the meeting:
Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3 

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