Smart-growth in Maryland falls short of expectations

Posting on CommonWealth Unbound yesterday, Robert David Sullivan reports on Maryland’s growth management strategy.  Sullivan relates Maryland’s incentive-based approach to Massachusetts’ approach and offers a critique of our smart growth policies

According to the report “Managing Growth with Priority Funding Areas:  A Good Idea Whose Time Has Yet to Come” in the September issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA), Maryland’s growth management strategy, has fallen short of expectations. 

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy also published a related report recently - “Evaluating Smart Growth.”   The Lincoln Institute’s report evaluates the effectiveness of smart growth policies by comparing measurable outcomes in states with strong smart growth initiatives (Oregon, Maryland, Florida, and New Jersey) to four other states.  See my post a few months back on the Lincoln Institute’s report, which concluded that each state with smart-growth initiatives had mixed outcomes. 

Conclusions in both the Lincoln Institute’s report and the report in JAPA are not black-and-white.   The report in JAPA leaves an opening for incentive-based strategies.  As summarized in the ”take-away for practice” in the report’s abstract: 

Targeting state funds to promote compact growth is a conceptually sound approach to urban growth containment, as land is less likely to be developed if it is not served by public infrastructure. But, as with other planning tools, the key is effective implementation. If states want to contain growth by targeting state spending, they must change budgeting processes to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and that the level of state spending is large enough to make a difference.

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