Smart Growth Maryland

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.

About Smart Growth

Downtown Frederick has benefited from smart growth tools and investments.

What is Smart Growth Maryland?

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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How We Work

How Does Smart Growth Maryland Accomplish Its Work?

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.

How are Smart Growth and Historic Preservation Connected?

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:

  • Interest in the reuse of historic buildings in downtowns is unlikely if sprawl remains a viable option. Adaptive reuse of historic buildings becomes more economically feasible in communities where open space is protected and sprawl is curtailed.
  • Rural agricultural landscapes are as much a part Maryland’s history as the barns and farmhouses which dot them. Saving open space is most effective in communities which prioritize the redevelopment of existing areas rather than encouraging sprawl.
  • Saving historic buildings in communities without walkable sidewalks and bikeable streets and is more difficult than in communities with complete, pedestrian friendly streets.
  • Redevelopment of historic neighborhoods is extremely difficult in the absence of reliable and effective transit options. Traffic choked roads and gridlock are barriers to the effective reuse of historic buildings and the revitalization of historic communities.

In addition to these specific examples, smart growth advocates and historic preservationists also share a common affinity for several broader issues here in Maryland:

How is Smart Growth Maryland Organized and Funded?

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.

Who is on the staff of Smart Growth Maryland?

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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News & Updates

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.

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Tagged In: Smart Growth,

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.

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Tagged In: Advocacy, Smart Growth,

05/12/2022
By Smart Growth Maryland

Smart Growth Candidate Forums

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.

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04/11/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Sine Die 2022: State Legislative Advocacy Report

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.

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03/31/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Session Update: Key Preservation Bills Crossover

We are closing in on the last few weeks of an extremely busy 90-day legislative session, and Preservation Maryland is staying engaged in Annapolis, with the organization championing several key bills and testifying on many other important pieces of legislation.

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On January 25th more than 500 Marylanders from around the state virtually attended the 28th Annual Environmental Legislative Summit in Annapolis, co-hosted by Preservation Maryland, in support of the environmental community’s legislative agenda for the 2022 general assembly session.

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Annapolis, MD. Photo by Andrew Mihailoff.

01/12/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Priority Issues for the 2022 Legislative Session

The 444th session of the Maryland General Assembly begins today. This session still may not look like those of years past due to Covid-19 precautions, Preservation Maryland remains ready to be the voice of historic preservation in Annapolis. We are hitting the ground running with a full slate of priorities in support of historic tax credits, community revitalization, preservation funding, and smart growth.

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12/29/2021
By Preservation Maryland

Year-In-Review: Spotlight on Smart Growth

In 2021 our team advocated for preservation and smart growth policies that invest in our communities and help provide more equitable, sustainable, and livable opportunities for Maryland residents. Read more about our Smart Growth victories here. 

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As a result of advocacy work by Smart Growth Maryland and our local smart growth and land conservation partners, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted on December 1, 2021 to approve the designation of 64,000 acres in Charles County to create the new Nanjemoy-Mattawoman Forest Rural Legacy Area.

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Tagged In: Smart Growth,

Smart Growth Maryland and our partners in the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County are standing in opposition to a proposed Amendment to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan that would rezone 558 acres of protected land within the Watershed Conservation District as Employment and Industrial Park District. The rezoning would result in increased development, the destruction of vital natural resources, and an increase in impervious surfaces.

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