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Online Listening Sessions, May 30, 2018

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism and Regional PlanningConcerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support and Data ♦ Economic Development ♦ YouthHousing ♦ Infrastructure ♦ Community Engagement and Volunteerism ♦ Training and Education ♦ Transportation  ♦ EnvironmentCommunity ♦ Funding ♦ Neighboring Jurisdictions ♦ Communication ♦ What the County is Missing ♦ State Agencies ♦ Technical Assistance ♦ Planning ♦ General

The comments below represent the statements or points of view of one or more individuals who participated in the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) “A Better Maryland” Development Plan Listening Sessions. These comments do not represent any official position or policy of MDP or any other State agency, nor do they represent any official position or policy of any local jurisdiction or local planning agency.

Regionalism and Regional Planning

Needs of Washington County and Anne Arundel County are very diverse

Water and air cannot be addressed by a single local jurisdiction. Howard County air goes to Montgomery County

It makes sense for the state and the local jurisdictions to have a mutual understanding of the land use and growth patterns that are existing and planned for a community

A state development plan needs to orchestrate local plans so they add up to a synergistic larger whole, instead of competing with each other

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

The State should not be dictating local land use or growth. These are local issues

Preemption is a major issue when the state and federal government disallows the local government to control our growth and priorities

Public health and safety can be defined by state more easily than land use and growth, which are more variable based on location

The community and/or county should be responsible for their own growth as we live in the county, the state government does not

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Mapping Support and Data

All information should be available on one platform

I would like to see a comprehensive Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program across all Maryland state agencies

We need better at-place employment stats

Queen Anne’s County needs assistance with data describing maximum sustainable build-out

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Economic Development

Invest in more small businesses to grow communities

You need an economy and jobs to have a community

Our agricultural community has a deep history and is a glue that makes the area someplace

Without a critical mass of farmland, the industry will fail. Farms must be profitable to be sustainable. One farm alone cannot survive

Protect and profile Maryland tourist attractions – particularly African American history

If jobs are sparse or ill-paying and citizens are forced to travel outside of their community for work, the toll that can take detracts from the ability to enjoy or participate in the other aspects

Employment reduces poverty and homelessness, increases personal wealth/prosperity, enables opportunity for education and self-sufficiency

Business investment, when guided by local government and organizations, can lead to positive change

Economic development and revitalization will help uplift our many communities that are in need and obviously require assistance beyond that of what local government can provide. Meanwhile, local government can care for local needs in communities that are faring better. Those in greatest need should be assisted so that statewide we are prosperous and successful

State and localities should collaborate to create employment centers. Couple that with transportation planning to reduce the need for more roads

The jurisdictional competition to attract business leads to public give-a-ways for private interests, to the detriment of local services

If transportation to distant jobs is not feasible, then investing in business incubators in rural areas is necessary. Obviously, rural areas have fewer job opportunities

Too much of an emphasis on open space has been driving up the cost of land and housing. This is the elephant in the room degrading the economy and jobs

Encouraged business investment is needed to stimulate workforce development

Workforce development will increase homeownership opportunities

Better transportation is needed to help tourism inside of Maryland

Huge development, such as Amazon HQ2, may not be in the best interests of the community

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Need more funding for schools. Children are the future

In a civilized society schools need to be excellent and are a basic need

Schools need to be part of the mix or we won’t have a future that has the other elements (quality of life or jobs in particular)

Affordable housing and safe communities come first. Part of that, of course, is good schools

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The high cost of housing limits the enjoyment of the other amenities

Affordable housing is critical if we want people to continue living in this state, and not just workforce housing

Affordable housing is essential — should be in areas that already have infrastructure in place

Housing is a problem if you lack sufficient income to afford it

Affordable-housing is being opposed by smart growth principles, which increases the cost of land and the lack of affordable-housing is affecting the economy

Proper land use policy is critical to affordable housing

Housing and transportation are connected, most people like to live where they work

Being an urban county near to DC, Prince George’s needs to address the problem of affordable housing in a much more proactive way

As DC continues to gentrify, the need in Maryland’s Capital Region counties is growing

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Transportation infrastructure is too costly at the local level

Rural brain drain may be alleviated by adequate internet availability

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Community Engagement and Volunteerism

Working together, state and community, is key. We cannot rely on county representatives who may only have their lobbyists in mind, but collaborate with the public in different ways, such as in this webinar

Need better connections and communications to the public. We rarely hear about public forums

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Training and Education

Education is key because it covers institutions and populations that can add to surrounding smaller communities, tourism, govt. contracts, local employment

Public education needs to figure into any plan. There can be no ‘Better MD’ without a solid public education system

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Bridges and overpasses need to be addressed

For example, the MD 295 overpass of Hanover Rd in Howard Co is crumbling. What is being done to ensure all these small, off the beaten path types of bridges are being evaluated?

We need a diversity of transportation modes, as we have in some areas

We need better public transportation – maglev will be great, as well as better, more efficient bus routes in the suburbs

People want a clean, rural environment, but they work in DC, so transportation is vital to those who want to live rural. We (Charles County) need the light rail. Roads between jurisdictions need to be “tuned” better to allow for better traffic flow. Light Rail would take the pressure off SR 210 (Indian Head Highway)

Put emphasis on public transit as opposed to building new roads or widening existing ones

Many of us in Montgomery, including council members, don’t want I-495 widened so don’t force it on us! Work on other means – BRT, MARC, etc

Widening roads and adding lands does not solve our transportation problem

Need more bike lanes

Development of cross-county bike lanes and/or trails

Bike routes need coordination across counties and the state, link to DC

Transportation connects communities. Multi-modes, including without a car, are critical

Need a bidirectional MARC

Public transit reliability is a huge issue now

Effective, affordable public transit is critically important for suburban communities

Grandma is probably not going by bike

Prince George’s County and City of Greenbelt do not support SC Maglev or the Hyperloop

We need our community to be more active. A more walkable town would be great

Development needs to be in sync with transportation modes. Need closer coordination and not simple reliance on more and wider roads

The “transportation” issue should be addressed as accessibility to what you want to get to…land use location drives transportation needs

Transportation is crucial, but I’d prefer that more jobs were local instead of the ridiculous commutes. More flexibility is needed

Commuting in Maryland is such a problem. We need a solution such as a better bus system, a robust subway system, and better roads

Transportation is such a huge expense. Roads are used by all. The state is best to coordinate transportation

A coordinated transportation plan for the region is critical, although the state may play favorites between areas

Transportation is an issue to be addressed statewide, other issues are better addressed at the local level

State government role is essential for cross-jurisdictional issues in transportation

A Better Maryland must be crafted in a way that recognizes that transportation needs are vastly different, yet no less important to various areas around the state, i.e. Western MD and the Eastern Shore vs. the Greater Metro Region

Transportation is a regional issue. It effects quality of life and the ability to attract new business (workers must be able to get to work)

Promote telework to resolve traffic issues and allow people to stay in their communities and support their communities economically

The issue of planning for automated vehicles should be coordinated by the state

Because of our location near the Bay and DC, etc, transportation connects all other issues together

The transportation conflict in Montgomery County is with the state and Metro. I’m not certain the state development plan can address that

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Environment and agriculture should be more connected

You only have one chance to save open space and environment. The rest can be built over and over again, and will always cycle. Once open space is gone, it is gone forever

Facilitate the sharing of best practices across counties in relation to improving the environment. For example, watershed/storm water management in meeting Chesapeake Bay goals

Good air to breath is very important to quality of life. If we don’t protect our resources we won’t have clean water, wildlife

We need to recognize that our region plays a vital role in providing habitat for wildlife, and that land protection is key

If we don’t care for the environment we don’t have anything. The environment should come first. It improves quality of life. A healthy Bay would give so many tourist dollars

Economy and jobs without a corresponding clean environment and open space would turn the area into nothing but a working town. We need both

Open space is important…if you have a job. A clean environment is important for health

Climate, sea level rise support is key in planning

A clean and safe environment leads to walking around and meeting your neighbors—all important to health

The entire community contributes to a clean environment

Individuals can get together to help keep the environment clean. Hold each other accountable

Land use affects the environment, so it affects us all

Need to preserve land, especially larger plots. Local government often doesn’t look at the big picture and wants the tax base to grow, so it converts natural area

Long commute times can mean more fumes, and therefore dirtier air

Sometimes it is better to have a state mandate/regulation rather than 24 different mandates/regulations for the same environmental issue

Solar energy development

Loss of prime agricultural land to utility scale solar

Huge concern about solar energy uses in northern Baltimore County

Solar can help farmers keep on farming – use marginal land and farm the rest

Environmental protection is most rife with conflict if it stands in the way of economic development. Therefore, funds are needed to award those who protect beyond the minimum

Need a restructuring for sustainability of natural resources, as well as better planning by population/demographics: create a better connection of jurisdictions

We need laws to help define clean environment and open space in the milieu of suburban development

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The diversity of park activities brings people together

When people don’t have money, more crime occurs

Grassroots community activities bring the people together and help the community understand the future

Affordable housing, clean safe green spaces, and schools are most important for my family. They create a strong, healthy community to raise children and thrive

How we allow/cause our lands to be developed determines the health of our communities

The culture of who we are is needed, or how else can we preserve what we had in the past to know how to move forward

Culture and heritage play a key role in MD and provide a sense of where we come from

Our community shares history and their heritage which is based in natural resources

Benjamin Banneker Museum could be an even better Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) center

A sense of place and culture is very important – too much of Maryland is “Nowhere”

Harford County is trying to help drug addiction issue, but needs more money

State government should reach out to local governments to assist with drug addiction programs


Non-profits provide guidance and checks-and-balances to unbridled development

Organizational action has a great positive impact, but sometimes they have to work against the efforts of the governments. It would be nice if government would not stand in the way of organizations trying to better their communities

Chesapeake Bay Trust funds are important to the local watershed work of non-profits in Howard County

Non-profits provide additional resources to communities

Non-profits provide important resources including education, workforce development and other resources to increase homeownership, foreclosure prevention, and job preparation. Funding to these organizations remains a challenge to continue their great work

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The state and federal government have the funds to make big (expensive) changes

Collaboration without money gets you nowhere

Funding enhances the ability of all programs. Invest in public transportation within regions and individual community needs, such as stormwater infrastructure in Ellicott City, or bringing economic stability and vitality to the Lower Eastern and Western counties

Fund only what is sustainable and serves A Better Maryland, not more low density greenfield development, which will bankrupt local and state coffers over time. Many local planners don’t have the resources to model long-term impacts

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Neighboring Jurisdictions

Coordinate and advise local comp plans, especially in adjacent jurisdictions such as Baltimore County’s resource conservation area, which is adjacent to Carroll County growth area (Route 30)

Some of these are, by definition, local; while others are more state-level, such as transportation. The point is that locals should not insist on protecting their turf (“land use is mine”!) but to look at what is win-win locally and statewide. These choices are not binary

County Master Plans sometimes do not consider what exists in the City’s within its borders

Building trust amongst different sections of cities is needed

Share best practices across counties for better police/community relations

Maintenance of multi-family units and affordable housing is a conflict with the neighboring jurisdiction

The state should use the Council of Governments model

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We need better collaboration between different levels of government

Greater collaboration is needed to understand what regulations and policies are necessary

Collaboration is the priority to determine what is best for sprawl and land use

Collaboration is key, or we will have highways to nowhere in one area a gridlock in others and it will be expensive

Three areas in which collaboration should happen, infrastructure of technology in very rural areas, fitting drug addiction, and schools

Collaboration almost by definition would include technical assistance and information. State has resources to collect information and share between jurisdictions

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What the County is Missing

Washington County

More activities for the youths such as community centers

Children’s hospital

Better public transportation

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State Agencies

State government may favor some areas over others

Greater collaboration to avoid duplication of services and the “sameness” of places. The state/local planning efforts should be complimentary and not conflicting

Frostburg is a small community, but I feel that I have good relationships with many state agencies to accomplish projects (and receive funding) – DHCD, MDOT, MDE, Planning/ARC, Commerce, etc. The local jurisdictions need to be responsible/proactive

The Maryland Historical Trust is currently making updates to their statewide preservation plan. That should relate to Reinvest Maryland planning effort

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Technical Assistance

Local jurisdictions need support from the state to do effective planning

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How can statewide planning be fine-tuned for effectiveness and the needs of a widely diverse set of communities?

The point of quality of life is that all land uses need to be in one place instead of being separated as in past zoning

Historic Preservation

Once a historic building is gone, it’s gone forever

Investment does not require demolition. Charles Village in Baltimore City exists because of the historic planning/architecture/housing. Keep small businesses and small buildings. Do not make everything a new mixed use big development block

Please include historic preservation/reinvestment as a topic. That’s not exactly “historical attractions” but more investing in existing places where the time and effort and energy has already been spent. De-incentivize sprawl

How will this effort address needs of historic communities?  I live in Greenbelt, a New Deal planned community on the National Register of Historic Places

Greenbelt is a specific historic community that has unique value in Maryland

Revitalization and Redevelopment

Demand exceeding supply leads to the problems of traffic congestion, overpopulation, loss of lands, and overcrowded schools. Demand increases the need for development. Areas do not develop to the degree that causes such problems if there is no demand for housing, retail, and related services. Balancing the demand of those who want to locate in your community against the detraction it may cause to the pull factors of the community is exceedingly difficult

Older communities will only thrive if there isn’t infinite development in the outer areas which should be protected as open spaces and farmland. This also saves transportation funds

There are many efficiencies in shoring up older mixed-use communities over developing new ones that are single use (bedroom communities)

Need to address how an area will be revitalized — will it push people who live in the neighborhood away due to increase in cost for rent, food, etc?

Sprawl is not just ugly growth but causes problems with traffic etc., and erodes quality of life. Look what parking lots upstream just did to Ellicott City. Why can’t we build beautiful new places that matter instead of ugly car-based sprawl

If growth is so good for the economy, then why don’t my taxes go down to nothing when new houses are built?  I don’t see the economic benefit to sprawl for existing residents

Local Government

Local government sets the tone through their comprehensive plans and plans focused on individual master plans. Local governments consider the specific characteristics, needs, and concerns of the local community and helps to bridge the various interests and stakeholders to collaborate towards the greater good of the community

County government allows for more boots on ground work within the community

Even the best local government initiative needs to be embedded into a good state plan and has federal support of local communities

Local government initiates partnership with state and/or federal government

Local governments can advocate for local needs

Across the state, the work of all levels of government and private investment needs to be public/transparent/and have buy in from local organizations and residents

Columbia Association and Howard County government together have had a most positive impact

Citizens attending city council meetings and expressing needs/desires is very important

The state can help to mitigate Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) tendencies

Comprehensive statewide leadership in planning and management has not effectively addressed the real tough issues like what Ellicott City has recently experienced

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Prince George’s County, as the richest Maryland county with a predominantly black population, needs to be emphasized

Because each place and county has specific needs, collaboration – not regulation is key. But, thoughtful strategies need to come from Maryland leadership to benefit all of Maryland, i.e., historic preservation, de-incentivize cars, investment in parks and the environment

The most significant positive changes begin with citizen action. Individuals and organizations often raise the issues to the local govt and push for change

Schools and police are fundamental. Regulation of market forces protects the environment…which otherwise is abused


By Location

Charles County – Environmental organizations work hard to keep the flavor of Charles County’s rural nature and keep our natural resources as a priority

Montgomery County – Diversity coupled with dynamic and educated workforce

Prince George’s County – People from all kinds of backgrounds…race, ethnicity, education, income, and culture

Frostburg – As a community in Appalachia with a University, the diversity the student population brings to our community makes us stronger, in my opinion, than many other Appalachian communities by bringing different cultures and perspectives to a small town. Our diversity includes many cultures from all over the world

Maryland Capital Region – rural, urban, suburban; agriculture and hi-tech; diverse workforce, people

Baltimore City – The people, Baltimore City, Johns Hopkins, businesses, and residents all invest in this community

People live here because of the housing and small walkable businesses, green neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation, and jobs with Johns Hopkins, etc.

Pedestrian traffic

Neighborhood families, stores, schools

Convert unused properties into neighborhood green centers

In Park Heights area- funding to support development will help keep Pimlico race course and to upgrade the area to be more attractive


Opportunities to enjoy nature; play, safe places to enjoy the outdoors

Using everyone’s brain power is better than only using a portion of brain power

Character, convenience, walkability, diverse architecture

Diversity of habitat and geography across the state

Parks are everyone’s asset. They give back more value than they take


By Location

Montgomery County – schools will begin to limit new development if new ones are not built

Bel Air – Parking and state highway down the center of our town. We are having issues with safety and speed in our town. We need to slow traffic down

Prince George’s County – Development is eating up our farmland

Anne Arundel County – Worried about too much development

Water access in AA County–infringes on residents of that area

Baltimore City – Attracting development in older communities, including Catonsville

West Baltimore needs support and attention

Frostburg – attracting development (delivering a Return on Investment)

Baltimore County – Distance to job sites (mentioned multiple times)

Gaithersburg – Housing affordability is a challenge, especially single-family and as it relates to wages

Cambridge – Schools that perform poorly discourage attracting young people to the community

Howard County- growing disparities in Howard County – a lot of self-segregation growing by school district

Frederick – Needs help with stormwater management

Charles County – Sprawl – Developers are changing the rural atmosphere and intruding on natural resources, which are a major attribute of Charles County


Higher wages for graduates struggling with debt

Retaining rural character (mentioned multiple times)

Rural areas do not have good internet options. No cable or high-speed internet service. Can only get satellite internet

Solar parks

Growth and Development

Development is still easier and cheaper in outlying areas and on farm fields than in existing communities

Growth is a challenge due to the cost of infrastructure to the government and the property owner

Preserve habitat for wildlife. Don’t turn all “natural’ areas into ball fields for parks. Birds, for example are rapidly diminishing. Too much sprawl

Speed, safety, walkability

We need connected development, no isolation

Transportation in rural areas

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