PlanMaryland aims to create Baltimore-Washington mega-region
- (Wikimedia Commons)
The area between Baltimore and Washington is sometimes considered a suburban no-man's land, but a 24-year plan is in the works to turn the Washington-Baltimore area into a mega-region.
PlanMaryland is the state's effort "to encourage smart growth and to discourage sprawl" by building more housing where infrastructure — roads, water systems, transit access — already exists, Atlantic Cities reports. This would save billions on the cost of new suburban and exurban projects.
The Washington area, as a whole, has the 17th-most efficient transportation system in the nation; Baltimore gets decent marks, but in between those cities, residents suffer long mass-transit commute times and high car-commute rates. Today, 77 percent of Marylander commuters drive alone.
The plan is coming under fire from local groups who fear a loss of authority from local planners, but perhaps those fears are unfounded:
For one thing, PlanMaryland requires no new laws; everything in the plan merely executes laws on the books more efficiently. And state planners won't act unilaterally; local governments will nominate zoning districts for priority status.
There will be a 60-day public commenting period on the current draft of the plan before a final version is given to Gov. Martin O'Malley, whose support is best summed up in this quote to the Post: "This is not a wall that prohibits counties from making stupid land-use decisions. They’re still free to do that, but we’re not going to subsidize it any more."
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