Legislation Represents Major Growth Reform Since 1997
ANNAPOLIS - Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. this week signed HB 1141, "Local Government Planning," successful legislation resulting from work and collaboration by many stakeholders including the Department of Planning (MDP), the Department of the Environment (MDE), MML, and MACo. This bill's drafting began in concept last summer when MDP brought MML and MACo together for the Annexation Workgroup. Subsequently, through the Workgroup and statewide growth workshops, MDP and MDE established principles of planning, many of which were ultimately included in HB 1141.
"For the residents of Maryland this law will promote healthy growth and prevent sprawl throughout the state," said Governor Ehrlich. "Effective land use planning and water resource management are vital to create livable, planned communities."
HB 1141 strengthens the association in Comprehensive Plans between growth management and the increasing role of water resource allocation, and it requires municipalities and counties to collaborate on growth plans. Specifically, the bill would:
Strengthen the existing requirement for municipalities to create an Annexation Plan and require the submission of their plans by 2009,
Require counties and municipalities to add by 2009 a water resources plan element to the Comprehensive Plan,
Require municipalities add by 2009 a municipal growth plan element to the Comprehensive Plan,
Provide for voluntary Joint Planning Agreements between a county and municipality in the creation of a growth element,
Provide for mediation with the State Court's Office of Conflict Resolution when an agreement on a Joint Planning Agreement cannot be reached,
Amend the so-called 5-year rule to clarify an inconsistency in comparing land use in a county's comprehensive plan with a proposed municipal zoning, and
Provide for a Planning Task Force to examine generally planning matters beyond the finer scope of annexation.
The bill speaks to the critical need for balanced requirements for both counties and municipalities, and it represents the first major reform for growth issues since the enactment of the Smart Growth Priority Funding Areas Act of 1997.
MDP and MDE continue to actively address growth matters throughout the state. Based on the growth workshops MDP and MDE held in 2005, the departments jointly issued in April a report that concluded the most important component of land use and environmental decisions is water and sewer capacity in each community. To this end, the departments actively are implementing land-use and environmental reforms. Further details about these plans can be found at http://www.mdp.state.md.us/ and http://www.mde.state.md.us/.