Our Process

In the development of the Plan, staff used an inclusive, bottom up approach, an iterative process with

multiple phases and diverse opportunities for Marylanders to provide valuable input. The diagram
below outlines the process for A Better Maryland outreach and plan formulation.

 The public input process extended over a period of one and a half years, allowing the Maryland
Department of Planning (Planning) to actively engage and connect with the public, local governments,
state agencies and other stakeholders across the state, to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Listen: Actively listen to the public, local governments, state agencies and other stakeholders on how the Plan can be a valuable resource at the state and local level
  2. Identify Local Priorities: Determine what issues and information should be included in A Better Maryland to ensure that local priorities are factored into the Plan’s development.
  3. Identify Information Sources: Identify state and local data sources (such as development activity and preservation efforts) to be evaluated and tracked over time to inform state and local government decision making.
  4. Involve Stakeholders in the Process: Solicit widespread involvement and stress local participation in developing A Better Maryland.
  5. Determine Utility: Develop a Plan that will be useful in advancing the interests of the public, local governments, state agencies and other stakeholders.

Planning established a network of local and statewide stakeholders, plus a series of communication mechanisms, to spread the word about the project, generate enthusiasm for the planning process and final product, and encourage interested individuals to provide input.

Planning, with the assistance of stakeholders such as the Sustainable Growth Commission, Maryland Association of Counties and Maryland Municipal League, identified local planning and community groups who could disseminate information about the project and engagement opportunities, including the listening sessions and online surveys. Regular emails, newsletter articles, social media posts and phone calls combined to inform residents across the state that Planning wanted to hear from them. Planning’s Regional Planners engaged local residents and interest groups who attended meetings, invited colleagues and friends, and posted the online survey on their own social media accounts and websites. These local voices amplified Planning’s messages and ensured active participation.


Planning developed engagement opportunities that were open and accessible. A series of 72 listening
sessions brought project staff and Planning leadership to all 23 counties and Baltimore City. During the
day in each jurisdiction, Planning met with municipal and county elected and appointed officials and
local government staff members. Evening meetings were reserved for the public and included a live
polling exercise that mirrored and complemented the online survey. Staff concluded the round one
outreach with two online listening sessions in the spring of 2018.

Following the initial outreach, the project team compiled survey results and organized listening session
feedback into a database. This information was used as input to a series of meetings with state and
local stakeholders. During these meetings and follow up conversations, project staff and participants
analyzed the round one input and developed responsive draft strategies that charted a clear path
forward for A Better Maryland. Planning met with the following groups during this process:

  • American Planning Association Maryland Chapter
  • Local Planning Directors
  • Maryland Association of Counties
  • Maryland Municipal League
  • Smart Growth Coordinating Committee
  • Smart Growth Subcabinet
  • State Agencies
  • Sustainable Growth Commission
With 56 draft strategies in hand, Planning embarked on a second round of outreach in the fall of 2018
with a series of 12 regional listening sessions, the support of local stakeholders and an online survey.
The listening sessions and survey asked participants to prioritize the draft strategies and provide
additional details or input for inclusion. As with the first round, round two concluded with two online
sessions in early winter 2019.

Find out what we heard in the Feedback​ section.

The level, scope and variety of its local outreach effort is unparalleled in Maryland statewide planning history and produced an immense amount of input.