Sustainable Communities Designations Announced by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Department of Planning
Applications from Charles, Frederick, Harford, Prince George’s, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties approved
CROWNSVILLE, MD (July 16, 2012) – Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner and Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Richard E. Hall announced the designation of seven sustainable communities under the state’s Sustainable Communities Act of 2010. The newly designated sustainable communities are the Central Avenue-Metro Blue Line Corridor, Emmitsburg, Havre De Grace, La Plata, Pocomoke City, Salisbury, and Waldorf.
"The Sustainable Communities program supports strong partnerships between the state of Maryland and local governments to develop clear action plans for the revitalization of these great cities and towns by increasing transit oriented development and expanding commercial and housing opportunities," said Secretary Skinner. "These newly designated Sustainable Communities have shown a dedication to improving their communities and the quality of life for their residents, and we look forward to working with them to achieve their downtown revitalization goals."
"Sustainable Communities reinforces the investment Maryland is making in smart growth and strong neighborhoods," said Secretary Hall, who chairs the Governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet. "These seven designees are leaders in their commitment to sound environmental protection, strong local character and sense of community, solid economic development and innovative housing and development strategies. We need to promote more of Maryland's growth into areas like these Sustainable Communities and not in ways that pollute the Bay, waste land and siphon resources from existing communities."
A Sustainable Community Area is initially identified by a municipality or County that has a specific local area in need of revitalization and has created a comprehensive strategy to encourage and guide local investment. The comprehensive Sustainable Community strategy aims to increase economic, transportation and housing choices as well as the quality of the local environment.
Background on the proposals of the seven designees follow:
Central Avenue-Metro Blue Line Corridor – Prince George’s County
Three municipalities, Seat Pleasant, Fairmount Heights, and Capitol Heights, collaborated with Prince George’s County to develop a plan that will revitalize the area surrounding the eastern end of the Washington Metro Region’s Blue Line. The communities seek to create a sense of place in their region, spotlight historic and cultural landmarks, and attract commercial investment. They are planning to concentrate development around Metro stations to decrease reliance on cars and improve access to jobs in other regions.
Town of Emmitsburg – Frederick County
Historic Emmitsburg is working to revitalize their town square and Main Street by increasing opportunities for commercial space, showcasing their history, and improving town walkability. They seek to capitalize on their numerous cultural designations: Emmitsburg is recognized as a National Historic District, as well as a Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. To better address their housing and commercial needs, the town will conduct a housing study and downtown design charette.
City of Havre de Grace – Harford County
Havre de Grace, currently a Main Street Maryland Community, Enterprise Zone, and former Community Legacy area, seeks to strengthen their community even more with several strategies. The city will increase bike use with more storage racks and improved paths, including plans to connect their North Point Trail to Susquehanna State Park. Downtown, Havre de Grace will improve public access to the waterfront and heighten the profile of their Arts and Entertainment District, rehabilitating their underused opera house. To help residents commute to Aberdeen Proving Ground and to cities along the MARC Penn Line, the city is considering options for public transportation to the Aberdeen train station.
Town of La Plata – Charles County
Ten years after a tornado devastated La Plata, the town is poised to continue their extensive revitalization efforts with a number of strategies. In their downtown, where they are studying the feasibility of using a Main Street approach as a community economic development strategy, La Plata will promote mixed-use development, rehabilitating vacant or underused buildings. They hope to connect housing and commercial areas with new transit stops, and continue to promote green initiatives such as adopting LEED building practices.
Pocomoke City – Worcester County
Pocomoke City, a scenic riverside community less than an hour from Ocean City, plans to increase tourism as an economic driver, emphasizing several historic museums and enhancing the downtown area. They hope to improve pedestrian and bike access in the city and nearby nature trails, as well as take advantage of their location on the Pocomoke River with water attractions and a restaurant accessible by boat.
City of Salisbury – Wicomico County
Salisbury’s Sustainable Community designation will help the city benefit from its numerous assets. To promote investment and increase employment, Salisbury will award local loans to small businesses and promote job skills training at local institutions. Improving their marina, zoo, and playgrounds will enhance the city and attract visitors. Their strong branches of Neighborhood Housing Services and Habitat for Humanity will continue to support lower-income residents with grants, loans, counseling, and safe housing.
Waldorf – Charles County
Waldorf’s Sustainable Community vision emphasizes a shift away from cars, with several planned bicycle lanes linking the city. They imagine a vibrant, attractive downtown, implementing mixed-use development. To achieve this, Waldorf is considering applying for a State Enterprise Zone designation, enabling businesses to attain tax credits and other incentives. They have hopes for increasing public transportation choices for all of their residents that commute to the DC job market.
More information about Sustainable Communities is available by visiting the Neighborhoods page on the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development website: www.mdhousing.org as well as the Maryland Department of Planning website: www.mdp.state.md.us
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