Smart Growth Maryland Releases Toolkit for Advocacy Across the State, talks what’s next for the program

Marylanders often say that the state has it all, from mountains, lakes, and beaches to bustling cities and rich cultural and historic sites. If you grew up here, it might be easy to take this diversity for granted, but in the past 30 years, Maryland has lost more land to development than in the prior 300 years. Development and sprawl can often be incremental; it is difficult to see its impact until greenspaces dwindle or historic downtowns experience two “thousand-year” floods in the span of two years. With the state population predicted to grow by over 500,000 people in the next 17 years, how can Marylanders proactively protect vital natural and cultural resources while creating equitable, sustainable, and resilient communities? Smart Growth policies are one way to achieve this. As a movement, Smart Growth aims to create density in already developed areas in order to protect agricultural, cultural, and natural resources.

Smart Growth progress in maryland

Since merging with 1000 Friends of Maryland in 2018, Preservation Maryland has worked with state, county, and local governments to advocate for this type growth. Over the past six years, with the help of a generous grant from the Keith Campbell Foundation, Preservation Maryland helped establish Smart Growth Alliances (SGAs) in Frederick, Howard, and Charles Counties. In just the last couple years, Preservation Maryland and the SGAs saw significant success in educating the public on and advocating for Smart Growth legislation. They hosted candidate forums; successfully advocated for significant environmental protections and the passing of a Climate Change Resolution; and testified at the State Legislature in favor of Program Open Space, the Great Outdoors Act, and the Climate Solutions Now Act.

Overall, the state has done an excellent job holding the line on sprawl, saving thousands of acres from development. However, to ensure protection of natural and cultural resources and guarantee sustainable, equitable, and affordable communities, Smart Growth advocates cannot only take offensive steps. We must be proactive in codifying smart development patterns at the state, county, and local levels.

Preservation Maryland is working to create a foundation of laws and policies that encourage density and incentivize infill redevelopment, including affordable housing. At the local and county levels, this will mean identifying major regulatory roadblocks to effective infill development so we can help draft model legislation. At the same time, through our new Smart Growth Toolkit, we will continue to support and empower counties to educate and advocate for Smart Growth at the local level.

Organizing for Smart Growth: A Toolkit for Advocacy Across the State

Helping communities say yes to good growth

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing a series of blogs discussing tools and policies that incentivize Smart Growth and highlighting communities that have implemented them successfully. Stay tuned to find out more about Smart Growth’s intersection with historic preservation, zoning, climate policy, and livability and what communities across the state and the country are doing to create a more sustainable and equitable future.