For Immediate Release
May 7, 2015
Contact: Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601
After 100 Days, Governor Hogan Has a Mixed Smart Growth Record
1000 Friends of Maryland reviews new Administration’s actions to date and issues
10 policy goals for future
(Baltimore, MD) – The first 100 days of the new Hogan Administration were a “mixed bag” for smart growth policies, according to a new assessment from 1000 Friends of Maryland. The first-of-its-kind report considers the Administration’s cabinet appointments, legislative initiatives, support of transit oriented development and local government accountability. It also establishes ten policy goals for the Hogan Administration to support a vibrant and sustainable future for Maryland.
“We have serious concerns about some of Governor Hogan’s cabinet appointments, misleading rhetoric around the much-needed stormwater program and lack of funding for smart growth investments, such as the Purple and Red Lines and land conservation programs protecting farms, forest and parks,“ said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, President, 1000 Friends of Maryland. “However, it is still early in his term and we want to work together. This is a good opportunity for Governor Hogan to understand and commit to smart growth to benefit our residents, our economy and our quality of life.”
Smart growth refers to the concept of building urban, suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools in order to support local economies and protect natural areas. Maryland is generally recognized as a leader in state-level smart growth policies.
“We recognize that the Governor has taken some positive actions,” said Dale Sams, Chair of 1000 Friends’ Board of Directors. “He has made some good appointments and will sign several pieces of productive legislation. We hope the Governor will embrace our policy goals and become a partner in our effort to advance smart growth and invest in our communities.”
The report considers cabinet appointments for six key state agencies that control smart growth policy: the Maryland Departments of Planning, Transportation, Agriculture, Environment, Natural Resources and Housing and Community Development.
Governor Hogan receives positive marks for Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, Planning Secretary David Craig, Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder and Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth Holt. However, 1000 Friends expresses concern about Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, due to his reputation for building highways but not supporting bike and pedestrian efforts, and it questions the qualifications of newly appointed Maryland Transit Authority Administrator Paul Comfort.
The assessment also raises serious concern over development policies of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton that, during his tenure as Charles County Administrator, encouraged the proliferation of large-lot development in rural areas.
Governor Hogan earns positive remarks for signing legislation establishing a tax credit for supermarkets in “food deserts” and improving access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. But budget actions such as diverting funding from the special dedicated fund known as Program Open Space in his proposed budget drew serious concern. The Governor has not yet announced whether he will sign the fracking moratorium bill, which smart growth advocates support.
And while Governor Hogan has said he will sign legislation that strengthens accountability for local governments to reduce pollution from stormwater pollution, the report takes issue with how the Administration has framed the debate.
A key opportunity for the Administration to encourage smart growth is through its evaluation of local government plans that identify how and where they will grow. These plans must conserve natural resources and target growth to areas where there is infrastructure to support it. The Hogan Administration’s review of Charles County’s comprehensive plan raised legitimate concerns about rural zoning that supports large-lot housing developments, threatens natural resources and undermines efforts to achieve densities consistent with transit. This is a promising level of oversight and 1000 Friends says they hope it will continue.
In concluding its report, 1000 Friends lays out ten policy goals for the Hogan Administration. Advocates say following these recommendations would keep Maryland on a path to a vibrant and sustainable future. The headings for the ten goals are:
1.Making Communities and Towns Vibrant
2.Spending Public Dollars Wisely
3.Preserving Our Past to Rebuild Our Future
4.Investing in Smart Transportation
6.Ensuring Strong Schools for Every Neighborhood
7.Simplifying Where Development Should Go
8.Investing in Land Preservation
9.Recognizing Changing Shorelines
10.Keeping Farmers Farming
The full report is available at www.friendsofmd.org.
1000 Friends of Maryland works for a better quality of life by engaging all Marylanders to achieve vibrant communities and healthy rural economies. 1000 Friends has worked for more than 20 years to advance smart growth by supporting programs and policies that encourage investment in our cities and towns, create transportation choices and foster a healthy environment. www.friendsofmd.org