Areas of Critical State Concern

Successful implementation of A Better Maryland will depend on the close coordination of state agencies with local governments. To facilitate this, Planning has identified areas of critical state concern that local jurisdictions may consider in their comprehensive / master planning and implementation of those plans. Local jurisdictions may address these areas of concern within their local plans as they deem appropriate.

To accommodate local level decision making and implementation, A Better Maryland provides a list of spatially designated areas, plans and studies, and programs that the state deems to be of critical concern. These may be considered by local jurisdictions in their local planning processes. The SGSC has endorsed this list and will update it periodically. The purpose for this Plan is to have a “manageable” list of areas, plans and programs that the SGSC agencies and local governments consider as the most significant when planning for the future, whether it is at the state or local level. Local governments may propose additional areas for inclusion.

Criteria used by SGSC to evaluate the appropriateness of areas, plans and programs to be included as areas of critical state concern take the following into consideration:

  • Areas that transcend local jurisdiction boundaries
  • Connection to local jurisdiction’s comprehensive/master plans
  • Implementation that requires state-local coordination or collaboration
  • Recognized state agency collaboration associated with area designations, complementary programs, or interagency planning efforts

Spatially Designated Areas - With Associated Programs

These designated areas are established jointly (state and local) or statutorily/programmatically to focus the attention and resources of state agencies and local governments on specific policy matters.

Area Designation
Arts and Entertainment Districts (Commerce) Locally designated, state approved
Certified Heritage Areas (MDP, MHAA) Local application, state approval
Certified Land Preservation Programs (MDA, MDP) Locally designated, state certified
Certified Local Governments (MDP, MHT) Local application, state/federal approval
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Areas (DNR) State designated areas
Coastal Community Flood Risk Areas (DNR) State targeted areas
Enterprise Zones (Commerce) Locally designated, state approved
Maryland Main Streets (DHCD) Locally designated, state approved
National Register/State Designation Historic Buildings/Sites (MDP, MHT) Locally designated, federally/state approved
Opportunity Zones (DHCD) Locally reviewed, state reviewed, federally approved
RISE Zones (Commerce) Locally designated, state approved
Rural Legacy Areas (DNR) Local and state designated areas, state program
Sustainable Communities (DHCD) Locally designated, state approved
Targeted Ecological Areas (DNR) State targeted areas

State Programs Provided to Local Jurisdictions

Agricultural Products Development and Marketing

Identify and develop profitable marketing local, national, and international opportunities for Maryland farmers and agricultural producers.

Chesapeake & Coastal Service Programs

Maryland’s Chesapeake & Coastal Service is a partnership among local, regional and state agencies to ensure that the expertise, tools and financial resources are used to their utmost capacity to address Chesapeake, coastal and ocean management priorities.

Climate Leadership Academy

The Maryland Climate Leadership Academy will advance the capacity of state and local government agencies, infrastructure organizations and businesses to develop and implement sound climate change initiatives thus ensuring current and future public health, security and economic prosperity.

Energy Performance and Conservation Program

The State Energy Database is a comprehensive large-scale utility management system that provides access, accountability, and trackability for 58 State entities.

Federal Surplus Property Donation Program

The Federal Surplus Property Donation Program enables certain non-federal organizations to obtain surplus property from the Federal government. The Department of General Services is the designated state agency to administer this program in Maryland.

Fisheries Programs

The fisheries programs are intended to provide for the conservation and equitable use of fishery resources.

Home Ownership/Affordable Housing

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's homeownership and rental housing programs help families in Maryland find, maintain and keep affordable and livable housing in communities throughout the state.

Land Restoration Program (Brownfields)

The Land Restoration Program focuses on cleaning up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites throughout Maryland.

Lead Poisoning Prevention

The program provides oversight for community education to those who are involved with lead paint abatement services by enhancing their role in preventing lead poisoning.

Local Education Agency Design Development/Construction Document Reviewer Certification Program

The Department of General Services’ certification process to streamline the State funded school project review by qualified Local Education Authorities.

Maryland Arts Grants

Through these programs, the Maryland State Arts Council impacts a broad range of individuals, communities and institutions across the state. Select a program to learn more about associated events, activities and grants.

Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Programs

Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Program is to encourage private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings and to promote investment in local economies.

Maryland Smart Energy Communities

The Maryland Smart Energy Communities (MSEC) program is designed to support local governments as they voluntarily adopt energy policies (and commit to them for the long term) leading to sustained reduction in energy usage, cost savings, and additional opportunities for renewable energy development.

Maryland Watershed Implementation Plan

Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) document the steps, measures, and practices Maryland and its local jurisdictions will take and implement to achieve and maintain the final Chesapeake Bay TMDL by the year 2025.

More Jobs For Marylanders

More Jobs for Marylanders, promotes the growth of manufacturing in Maryland by providing tax incentives for manufacturing job creation, encourages manufacturers to invest in new equipment through accelerated and bonus depreciation, and funds job training and apprenticeship programs to help strengthen Maryland's workforce.

Program Open Space - Local

Program Open Space – Local provides financial and technical assistance to local subdivisions for the planning, acquisition, and/or development of recreation land or open space areas.

Program Open Space - Stateside

Program Open Space Stateside preserves natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland through the purchase of fee-simple and easement acquisitions. Fee simple purchases are managed by the department as State Parks, Forests, and Wildlife and Fisheries Management Areas.

Project Green Classrooms environmental education initiative

Project Green Classroom is an initiative to promote outdoor experiential activities and environmental education through Maryland’s schools, communities and public lands.

Tourism Development

Office of Tourism Development assistance programs.

Workforce Development & Adult Learning

The Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning creatively and effectively coordinates job seeker services and training, business services, adult learning programs, and labor market information.

Other State Plans

2040 Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan 2019 Update

The Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (Plan) sets out important goals by which agencies across Maryland can partner to not only improve safety, but encourage more biking and walking activity.

2040 Maryland Transportation Plan

Every five years, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) develops a 20-year mission for transportation in the state known as the Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP), as required in §2–103.1 of the Transportation Article.. The MTP outlines the State’s overarching transportation priorities and helps create a larger context for transportation decision-making.

A Strategic Plan for Accelerating Economic Development in Maryland - 2016

as required in §2.5-202 of the Economic Development Article

Maryland Commission on Climate Change

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) is charged with developing an action plan and firm timetable for mitigation of and adaptation to the likely consequences and impacts of climate change in Maryland, including strategies to reduce Maryland's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan 2019-2023

The 2019 Land Preservation and Recreation Plan is a resource and a guide for strategically enhancing public outdoor recreation opportunities statewide over the next five years.

Maryland State Freight Plan

The 2022 Maryland Freight Plan assesses Maryland freight movements, multimodal networks, and related details to supplement and support the overarching vision, goals, and long range transportation planning initiatives in the 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP). It also incorporates national freight goals and guidance from federal surface transportation authorizations including the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and newer requirements per the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education

as required in §11-105 of the Education Article

Maryland State Rail Plan

The 2022 Maryland State Rail Plan (Plan) is an update of a previous Maryland Statewide Rail Plan that was completed in 2015. The 2022 Plan provides an overview of the current and planned rail network and services within Maryland. It outlines public and private investment as well as policies and strategies that will help guide the state’s support of railroad transportation in the future.

Maryland Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan 2017

as required by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Maryland's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan

as required in §2–1205 of the Environment Article

PreserveMaryland II: Statewide Preservation Plan 2019-2023

as required in Section 101(b) of National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 470a).

State of Maryland Hazard Mitigation Plan

as required in 44 CFR, Part 201, Mitigation Planning