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.
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.
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Smart Growth Maryland focuses its work in three critical areas: advocacy, education and technical assistance.
The staff of Smart Growth Maryland advocate at the local, state and federal level for programs and policies which incentivize smarter growth patterns and protect critical natural, cultural and historic resources. In addition, Smart Growth Maryland also presents at workshops, trainings, seminars and conferences throughout the state to provide access to the latest trends in smart growth. Smart Growth Maryland’s professional staff also works throughout the state to assist counties, municipalities and developers that are contemplating smart growth projects. Staff provides a wide range of expert technical assistance with projects aimed at revitalization, land-use planning and resource conservation.
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:
In addition to these specific examples, smart growth advocates and historic preservationists also share a common affinity for several broader issues here in Maryland:
Smart Growth Maryland is a major program of Preservation Maryland. Smart Growth Maryland is not an independent organization. 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 many individual, corporate, organizational, and foundation donors.
Smart Growth Maryland is administratively and programmatically supported by the staff of Preservation Maryland. Just as Preservation Maryland supports the rest of its programs like Heritage Fund grants and our Six-to-Fix program, 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.
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Legacy cities like Charleston and New Orleans are no strangers to the economic and cultural benefits of historic preservation. For many main streets, it spurs growth and investment, bringing new businesses, residents, and tourists. The cities with some of the oldest preservation movements have seen these benefits for more than 100 years.
One of the primary goals of the Smart Growth movement is to create density where development already exists, which can prevent sprawl and preserve greenspaces. Smart Growth Maryland is eager to encourage infill redevelopment, which takes underutilized lots and land in urbanized areas and returns them to efficient use. While the concept is straightforward, there are a number of approaches to accomplishing effective infill redevelopment. Read on to find out more about four common initiatives communities across the countries use to encourage infill.
Before we delve into the barriers to and incentives for Smart Growth and infill redevelopment in our upcoming blog series, here is a refresher on a simple but important question: What does Smart Growth have to do with Historic Preservation?
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.
The State of Maryland recently announced the preliminary FY24 budget, including $102 million to fully replenish Program Open Space, eight years ahead of schedule to accelerate land conservation projects. Although still preliminary, Preservation Maryland is pleased to see support for a program we have long championed through our advocacy work and our Smart Growth program.
Today we are revisiting Maryland Comptroller-elect Lierman’s words from a 2020 guest blog as she makes a powerful case for the important role historic preservation can play in helping Maryland grow smarter.
The American Farmland Trust has just released its “Farms Under Threat 2040: Choosing and Abundant Future” report, an ambitious modeling effort to project how climate change and development will affect agricultural land, which clearly demonstrates the need for smart growth and good land-use planning that encourages infill and redevelopment.
Much of Smart Growth Maryland’s work involves advocacy at the local level. In Maryland, where and how a jurisdiction grows – and does not grow – is decided locally through a comprehensive planning process. Public involvement is a critical part of that process, with plans reflecting the vision and goals for the community’s future expressed by residents. Local elected officials adopt these plans and implement them through a variety of means including zoning, so local elections can play a large role in the future of smart growth issues in a county.
The 2022 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly will come to a close on Monday, April 11, 2022. After 90 days of championing key bills and testifying on many other pieces of important legislation, it is safe to say that Preservation Maryland had one of its busiest legislative sessions in the organization’s history. With Session adjourned until January 2023, we are proud to report that we were able to make significant policy advances for preservation and smart growth in Maryland, while also securing an unprecedented amount of funding for preservation across the state.