Smart Growth

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns.

What is Smart Growth Maryland?

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for and works towards a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns.

Smart Growth Maryland was launched in 2018 when 1000 Friends of Maryland, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization merged into Preservation Maryland. This merger of activities resulted in increased efficiencies, bigger impacts and more donor dollars put towards the critical work of helping save historic places and growing smarter.

Image of Historic Downtown Frederick, Maryland.

How We Work

Smart Growth Maryland focuses on encouraging infill and redevelopment to protect the environment, reduce negative impacts on water quality, and curb sprawl by investing in existing communities.

At the local and state level the program works to increase access to incentives and identify regulatory barriers to infill, offer realistic alternatives through policy recommendations and model ordinances, and empower local advocates and leaders to enact successful strategies in their communities. These smarter growth patterns will protect critical natural, cultural and historic resources.

How are Smart Growth and Historic Preservation Connected?

Historic preservation was the original smart growth movement. 

Preservationists have long made the argument that revitalization of existing communities – and their historic places – is the wisest form of economic redevelopment. When existing communities are revitalized, sprawl is limited. This symbiotic relationship has kept the smart growth and historic preservation communities advocating on each other’s behalf for many years.

The launch of Smart Growth Maryland further solidified an already strong relationship between these two interest areas. Smart Growth Maryland provides Preservation Maryland with the ability to advocate for an even greater set of policies and programs that make preservation work possible. Alternatively, Preservation Maryland provides the smart growth community a unique partner to advance their common mission and to utilize historic places as a part of an overall smart growth message.

The overlap between smart growth and historic preservation is impressive. Many examples abound:

  • Interest in the reuse of historic buildings in downtowns are unlikely if sprawl remains a viable option. Adaptive reuse of historic buildings becomes more economically feasible in communities where open space is protected and sprawl is curtailed.
  • Rural agricultural landscapes are as much a part Maryland’s history as the barns and farmhouses which dot them. Saving open space is most effective in communities which prioritize the redevelopment of existing areas rather than encouraging sprawl.
  • Saving historic buildings in communities without walkable sidewalks and bikeable streets and is more difficult than in communities with complete, pedestrian friendly streets.
  • Redevelopment of historic neighborhoods is extremely difficult in the absence of reliable and effective transit options. Traffic choked roads and gridlock are barriers to the effective reuse of historic buildings and the revitalization of historic communities.

In addition to these specific examples, smart growth advocates and historic preservationists also share a common affinity for several broader issues here in Maryland:

  • Economic redevelopment of Main Street communities
  • Increased Funding for the Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit
  • Engaging citizens in planning issues
  • Protection of Program Open Space funding
  • Support for the State Heritage Area program
  • Support for effective mass-transit options
  • Making communities more resilient to sea level rise and natural disasters

How is Smart Growth Maryland Organized and Funded?

Smart Growth Maryland is a major program of Preservation Maryland. The finances of Smart Growth Maryland, like all other programs of Preservation Maryland, are annually reported on Preservation Maryland’s IRS 990 form. Donations restricted to the Smart Growth Maryland Campaign are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law and are recognized by an acknowledgment letter from Preservation Maryland. Smart Growth Maryland is supported by individual, corporate, and foundation donors.

Who is on the staff of Smart Growth Maryland?

Smart Growth Maryland is administratively and programmatically supported by the staff of Preservation Maryland. Just as Preservation Maryland supports the rest of its programs, the organization provides both leadership and support for Smart Growth Maryland. Preservation Maryland maintains an extremely low overhead rate and invests nearly 90 cents of every donor’s dollar directly into programs.

Image of Historic Downtown Frederick, Maryland.

Downtown Frederick has benefited from smart growth tools and investments.

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Can we count on you?

Preservation Maryland isn’t just preserving the past – we’re investing in our future. In just the past year we’ve invested heavily in our work and refused to accept the mounting challenges as a reason to retreat or hold our position. You are making it all possible.