Green Economic Development saves money and makes for better living: 2 reports of interest

Across the country, communities are struggling with how to fix and replace failing and outdated infrastructure and meet new demand to manage stormwater and protect clean water. American Rivers worked with the American Society of Landscape Architects, ECONorthwest, and the Water Environment Federation to release the Banking-on-Green report to build on the current understanding of the cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure and examine how these practices can increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, reduce localized flooding, and protect public health.

Green infrastructure, which utilizes natural processes to treat stormwater, potentially offers a number of benefits over the equivalent gray infrastructure. In a report titled Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay , the authors investigate the types of benefits, and where possible, quantify and value the benefits green infrastructure provides for three case studies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They describe green infrastructure projects and their benefits in Montgomery County, MD, Washington DC, and Prince George’s County, MD.

Maryland Smart Growth policies support kids walking to school

Why can’t Johnny walk to school? (Soon, he might)

October 28, 2011

David T. Whitaker, AICP Land UseSmart GrowthPlanning ,, 1 Comment

State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Governor Marting O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

In late October 2011, Maryland’s Board of Public Works – comprised of Governor Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp – approved a little-noticed package of regulatory changes for new and replacement public school construction that could help enhance smart growth in the state.

In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation informed us, “Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School.”  This groundbreaking report highlighted how shortsighted school construction policies and short term cost considerations across the country undermine existing neighborhood schools and result in the construction of new schools located outside of communities. The reasons were many – overly large acreage standards oriented to suburban design standards; escalating land costs in existing or planned communities; lack of effective communication between local planning departments and school facility planners; and numerous state policies across the nation favoring new school construction in farm fields over sites in existing or planned communities.

In 2007, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) decided to examine school construction and planning practices as they relate to Maryland. This culminated in it’s the 2008 Models & Guidelines publication “Smart Growth, Community Planning and Public School Construction,”. The publication drew national attention and many questions. Ultimately, it started a process of scrutinizing Maryland’s school construction practices with a focus on school siting procedures, capital funding processes and compact/vertical design options for new schools. A broad-based workgroup studied these issues and reported on each one. Three reports which were submitted to the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in the summer of 2009. The key recommendation of the workgroup was for “school construction funding decisions to be subject to Priority Funding Area (PFA) Review in a similar manner to state funding decisions on water & sewer and transportation infrastructure.”

On Wednesday, October 19, 2011, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a set of regulatory changes governing the Maryland Public School Construction Program.  These changes promote location decisions and school construction funding for sustainable community-based new public school construction throughout Maryland. These changes to Section 23.03.02 of COMAR, Administration of the Public School Construction Program, are focused in two areas:  The Capital Improvement Program and Site Selection for New Schools.

How does this change affect the process? Well, when a school system – more formally known as a Local Education Agency or LEA – proposes to build a new school or to increase the state rated capacity (student seat capacity) of a replacement school outside of a PFA, the LEA must request a waiver for approval of planning of the school facility and also funding for construction.

Additionally, unless a waiver is granted, a proposed site for a new school or a replacement school that adds capacity must be located within a PFA.

By requiring PFA review of school construction projects and site approval, Maryland has created a powerful incentive for communities to build new schools in existing neighborhoods, which are far more likely to be pedestrian-friendly or capable of being retrofitted than locations in outlying areas.

This significant step by the Board of Public Works marks a new era toward better decision-making by local and state governments about where new and replacement schools are built.  Schools within PFA’s – whether new or replacement – support the design of pedestrian-friendly communities in which homes, stores and offices as well as libraries, parks, recreation centers and other public facilities are well connected and possibly accessible by foot or bicycle. This as compared to sites isolated from one another and accessible only by motor vehicle travel. Schools located within communities in this manner reduce long term transportation costs and can improve the public health of the students they serve.

With improved community design guidelines that emphasize connectivity of streets and improved walking and bicycle access, schools can once again be anchors that promote the use of active transportation in Maryland communities.

From the public health perspective, experts emphasize the importance of walking or bicycling to school and other routine physical activity as vital to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. In 2007, 29 percent of Maryland children ages 10 to 17 – nearly one in three – were obese or overweight , putting them at increased risk for serious health problems.[i] The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that if current trends continue, one-third of all American adults will have diabetes in 2050.[ii] In addition, vehicle emissions, including particulates from diesel vehicles and the emissions of cars idling around schools as parents wait to pick up their children after school, are shown to contribute to the rise in childhood asthma rates.

A recent report for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) points to mounting evidence that moderately intense physical activity like walking and bicycling can help prevent disease and disability and improve overall health. Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Maryland’s regional and local transportation agencies are now considering human health in their planning on the assumption that increasing the share of “non-motorized” trips (walking and bicycling) can yield improved public health outcomes.

From the fiscal perspective, the cost of transporting students from home to school can be reduced by locating schools in communities. School bus costs have surged in recent years – Maryland spent $225.1 million on student transportation in the 2009-2010 school year. This is a 28 percent jump from the $175.5 million Maryland spent during the 2005-2006 school year. These higher costs are not due to school enrollment growth – transportation costs per pupil rose 26 percent, from $751 to $949, during the same period.[iii] This is not a trend that can be sustained by the state or by local government budgets over the next decade.

Maryland’s new approach towards school siting and construction within PFA’s can be viewed as a significant first step to reverse these serious public health trends and annual escalation in school related transportation costs. Perhaps with an increased focus on Safe Routes to Schools and improved sidewalk and trail access connecting schools and neighborhoods, in the future both Johnny and Jenny will be able to safely walk or bicycle to schools in the communities in which they live throughout Maryland.

[i]Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health; Maryland State Snapshots, Specific Health Problems and Conditions, 2007 Childhood Obesity State Report Card

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC Division of Media Relations press release; Oct. 22, 2010;

[iii]MSDE Fact Book: Transportation 2009-2010, pp. 44-45, and MSDE Fact Book 2005-2006, pp. 48-49.


Express your opinion of PlanMaryland

Over the next 20 years, there will be nearly 1,000,000 more people, over 400,000 additional households and over 600,000 new jobs in Maryland.Where will all these people live and work, how will they get to their jobs?

Read more – and express your opinion to the local paper!.  Share this information.  It is the future of our bucolic county, its farmland, our water and air quality, our budget and overall quality of life.


Citizens invited to make comments on how to make Frederick City more bicycle and pedestrian friendly

If you are a Frederick City resident please voice your support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure – it’s good for health, property values and overall quality of life. It seems that amenities for riders and walkers are the first to get swept aside when money is tight.  Please make your comments here. The 2012 budget discussions are happening now!

Homes in more traditional communities tend to hold value better than those built as sprawl

  A new report released from Smart Growth Maryland has findings that may surprise you…     homes inside the priority funding areas (PFAs), located in more traditional communities and designated growth areas, fared better economically than the homes that were built

Agriculture contributes to our quality of life

Washington County farming by the numbers


9:44 AM EST, January 11, 2011 

Over the past several weeks, I have been involved in several presentations and countless conversations on the importance of agriculture to Washington County. 

This is a question that bears discussing and one in which there is no easy answer. For many folks in my position, the answer would be an emphatic “yes,” if only it were that easy. 

Let’s start with a snapshot of Washington County agriculture. Believe it or not, 39 percent of the land in the county, 114,000 acres, is in agriculture production. There are 844 farms on those acres with most of these farms housing livestock. The county has 13,700 dairy cows, 36,000 beef cows and calves, 6,600 hogs, 1,700 sheep and 1,200 horses. 

Besides livestock, the county produces 1.78 million bushels of corn, 181,000 tons of corn silage, 254,000 bushels of soybeans, 370,000 bushels of wheat, 125,000 bushels of barley and 73,500 tons of hay per year. 

The county produces 65 percent of the state’s apples and 35 percent of the state’s peaches. In total, Washington County’s agrarian community has farm gate sales of just short of $84 million. 

A fairly substantial industry to say the least. Unlike many industries, however, ag producers spend more of their money at home. They patronize the various support industries from feed mills to fuel suppliers. Anytime a person lives where they work, the community is better off. 

The dairy industry leads the way here with sales amounting to $45 million, making the county the No. 2 dairy county in the state. The county also ranks second in forage production (hay and silage), third in beef, sixth in sheep and first in hogs, although the hog industry has all but disappeared in Maryland.

These figures demonstrate all the tangibles of agriculture, but I believe it is the intangibles that are most important. The foremost of these intangibles is the contribution agriculture makes to the quality of life. This is the reason many people are clamoring to move here. 

Americans have not yet realized what our Swiss brethren know, the farm is responsible for the scenic beauty of this place we call home.   

The Swiss, to their credit, have long recognized this to the point that their farmers are considered caretakers of the Alps and are paid for this duty out of funds generated from tourism. 

If you have any doubt about what I am saying, take a drive from Smithsburg to Cascade on a sunny day in April or May and if the apple and peach blossoms don’t take your breath away, I might suggest checking your pulse. 

Or on a warm summer’s day, drive through the hills and dales and watch cows grazing or calves frolicking or the smell of freshly mown hay. 

In a nationwide survey, people were asked what they would like to see out their windows. The results show the No. 1 response was animals grazing (horses or cows to be exact). Rather interesting, they didn’t list a split foyer or a rancher. 

So I am going to ask you, is agriculture important to Washington County?   

For the record, I am not against development. I believe we should grow our community on the fringes of existing towns and not in the middle of agricultural lands. But that is not my last word. We will visit this topic many more times in the future, so stay tuned. 

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at,0,4487585.story

Redevelopment and Stormwater Management/Environmental Site Design

High Point Natural Drainage System


Because of its size and its relationship to Longfellow Creek, the redevelopment of the High Point neighborhood in West Seattle offered Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) a unique opportunity to implement a large scale natural drainage system in an urban environment, where it could make a real difference. High Point features the largest natural drainage project that the City has undertaken, and the first time that a natural drainage strategy of this scale has been used in such a high density urban setting.

Features and Benefits

Designed in partnership with Seattle Housing Authority, this natural drainage system will treat about 10 percent of the watershed feeding Longfellow Creek – one of Seattle’s priority watersheds.

The natural drainage system at High Point mimics nature in many ways by using features such as swales to capture and naturally filter storm water and open, landscaped ponds or small wetland ponds to hold an overflow of storm water.

The end results are nothing short of remarkable. When completed, High Point will process water in a manner similar to a forest meadow.

High Point serves as an exemplary model for other large-scale developments, both locally and across the country. And SPU will continue to look for even more innovative ways to promote and encourage responsible stewardship of the environment – in Seattle and across the country.



The High Point NDS is part of the High Point Redevelopment, which covers 34 blocks—from 35th Ave SW to High Point Drive SW and SW Juneau St. to SW Myrtle St.

Construction Schedule

Construction of the first phase of the High Point NDS was completed in the fall of 2005. The first phase is bounded on the north and south by SW Juneau St. and SW Morgan St., and on the west and east by 35th Ave SW and High Point Drive SW. The second phase of construction was completed in 2009.

SPU began monitoring the first phase of the High Point natural drainage system in January of 2007. Data will be available in three years.

Project Resources

‘Green’ Hotel Proves Saving Energy Makes Money

Proximity Hotel’s restaurant offers an uncommon view in the heart of a busy Greensboro business and shopping district. Just below the outdoor terrace, a restored stream winds through an expanse of tall grass. A colony of turtles and the occasional heron make their homes in this quiet retreat. It’s not what you expect just a hundred yards from one of the city’s most frequented thoroughfares. But then, this hotel is an uncommon venture.

It’s the brainchild of Greensboro hotelier and restaurateur Dennis Quaintance, who has made his mark in the Triangle as owner of the Lucky 32 restaurant in Cary. Proximity opened in 2008 as the first hotel in America to earn the highest rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system. With water heated by 100 solar panels on the roof, a high-tech elevator that feeds energy back into the building’s electrical grid and an array of ultra-efficient materials, the Proximity uses 39 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than comparable hotels.

“The widely held notion that building and operating hotels with a commitment to sustainable practices is too expensive is a myth,” Quaintance said. “We wanted to get to the point where we’re not wasting energy and the guest is still very comfortable – and that’s where we ended up.”

But why aren’t more developers joining him? And what can they learn from Quaintance’s project that might serve both their bottom line and sustainable construction?

“Most property owners start with a calculator” – and often hastily decide green buildings cost too much, said Todd Mansfield, past chairman of the Urban Land Institute and current CEO of Charlotte real-estate developer Crosland.

Developers, for example, finance up to 90 percent of the money needed to build a hotel. With that high debt load, they focus on maximizing profits quickly by selling the hotel in three to five years. “There’s also been a long-standing misperception about the cost of green elements, that they add 20 to 25 percent to the cost of a project,” Mansfield said. In fact, he said, those costs more typically run less than 5 percent – and developers are gradually catching on.

Quaintance estimates the green elements of the Proximity added a net cost of about $800,000, or 3 percent, to his $29 million hotel. He expects to recoup it by 2012 through energy savings, state and federal tax credits and other incentives. He’s rooted in Greensboro, put considerable equity into the hotel with his investors and is willing to wait for his payoff – but many developers aren’t. Nor are they inclined to create more work for themselves by vetting the myriad green options that are available – from sensors that switch off the lights in empty rooms to high-tech drapes that retain heat more efficiently.

The result: In the two years since the Proximity opened, just one other hotel in the United States has achieved the platinum LEED rating. Quaintance finds that more disappointing than gratifying. He didn’t build the hotel to make a social statement; he did it because it made business sense.

The hotel’s energy efficiency will add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bottom line in coming years. And, already, about 15 percent of the Proximity’s revenues come from clients who want to hold weddings, meetings and charitable events there precisely because it is a green hotel.

In the Triangle, there are several dozen LEED-certified office, university and public buildings under way or finished. Durham, in fact, is among the national leaders in LEED buildings per capita. Duke University sets the pace with 16 buildings completed and another 12 seeking certification. Scientific Properties and Trinity Design/Build have kept pace with their own LEED-certified buildings. Greenfire Development, one of the city’s largest developers, has several innovative projects using green technology.

To prod more developers in this direction, Quaintance offers a few modest proposals. For example, he said, what if developers received incentives for earning LEED certification? What if they got accelerated tax depreciation for new buildings with energy and water consumption that exceed efficiency thresholds? What if colleges, universities, school systems and government agencies required that all new buildings include an estimate for the first five years of utility costs in their capital expenditure items? The math would show where the long-term savings from green features, such as solar panels, exceeded upfront costs.

“My hope,” Quaintance said, “is that in just a short while our accomplishments with the Proximity will be overshadowed by other hotels and restaurants that surpass our performance.”

Christopher Gergen is on the founding team of Bull City Forward and Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative at Duke University. Stephen Martin, a former business and education journalist, is a speechwriter at the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership. They can be reached at

**NEW** Frederick Farmers Market downtown Frederick

Frederick Farmers Market

Wednesdays, 3pm in the old Carmack Jay’s parking lot, between 3rd and 4th streets on Market St. Cut flowers, berries, vegetables, herbs, fruit, beef, pork, eggs, baked goods, lamb, rabbit, wool, yarn, chocolates, and hand made knits.

All items raised, grown or made within 120 miles of Frederick.

Why DeAnnex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher Properties?

Download the Deannexation Petition for Charter Amendment Here!

Friends of Frederick County Position on Crum and COPT/Thatcher Annexations into Frederick City

We believe that our county and city should protect the Monocacy River corridor, productive farmland, scenic vistas, and a buffer between Frederick and Walkersville. At this time there is adequate development planned in the existing “pipeline” of future development in the city and we should develop that first, see that it is done in the most economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner, and evaluate its impact before bulldozing greenfields.  FoFC believes that existing roads to the north are inadequate, congested and dangerous, and there’s no financial plan to solve that anytime soon.


In September 2009 the City of Frederick’s Mayor and Aldermen[1] voted to annex two farms (total 436 acres) along Route 15 north of Frederick City for 1200 new homes and approximately 2.3 million ft2 of non-residential (office, retail, manufacturing, hotel) space. During the Fall 2009 citizens made a good faith effort to gather 20% of city voter signatures to put these annexations to referendum but fell short of our target due to the 45 day time allowed. Judging from overwhelming citizen involvement in that effort and interest in signing the petition for referendum it was clear that citizens of Frederick City do not agree that the development plans for the Crum and COPT/Thatcher properties promote the health, safety and welfare of our city nor county.

Petition to DeAnnex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher Properties

For these reasons, on May 20th 6:30pm Frederick City Hall Friends of Frederick County launches a petition drive for a charter amendment to change the boundaries of the City of Frederick, MD to exclude the Crum and Thatcher properties.This petition effort, to “de annex” these properties, when put on the ballot will give citizens the opportunity to vote their preference.   The petition can be downloaded off the Friends of Frederick County website ( ) and delivered or mailed to our office.  Petitions will be available at events;  petition drop off points will be announced during the petition drive.  Hear what citizens have to say.

Why deannex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher properties from the City limits?

  • Route 15 is one of the most dangerous roads in Maryland – and there is little funding for improvements.  The northern annexations will add 12-15,000 car trips/day to Route 15 and arterial roads.[2] The Maryland State Highway Administration strongly recommended that the cost of planning, design and construction of the Biggs Ford Road interchange be included in the annexation agreements, that cost is estimated at $75-80 million. It was not. The Monocacy Boulevard completion (to cost $75-$80 m) is not even funded yet.[3]
  • There are 3500 homes and millions of square feet of commercial space within Frederick City that should be built first before expanding outward.  These approvals include Brick Works, Northgate, Clemson Corner, Market Square, the Ballenger Creek Center and the SAIC-Frederick/NCI facility.  For a complete list of commercial projects see:
  • The annexation agreements for Crumland Farm and COPT/Thatcher do not adequately address sewer, schools and fire and rescue services. There is no planned sewer service for the Crum and Thatcher properties at this point [4] and no detailed plans for school and emergency services.
  • This farmland has excellent soil for growing food.  If the properties are under Frederick County jurisdiction they will be in an Agricultural Priority Preservation Area (PPA), according to the recently signed Frederick County Comprehensive Plan.

Positions from Voices of Authority

Maryland Department of Planning[5] (7/22/2009) Asks the city to look into potential sewer constraints, the expansive floodplain and the road network impacts in light of the I270/Rte 15 Multi Modal Study.

State Highway Administration[6] SHA strongly recommends that the cost of planning, design and construction of the Biggs Ford Road interchange and park and ride lot be included in the requirements for annexation, as well as dedication of Rte 15 right of way and plans for arterial roads that will need to be constructed once Sunday’s Lane is closed.

Frederick County Board of Commissioners[7] letter dated 9/2/2009 2, 2009:  Without concurrent construction plans for an interchange and the elimination of the at-grade crossings “will only exacerbate an already dangerous situation and jeopardize the safety of City and County residents.” “The Crumland Farm Agreement (pg 5) does not obligate Petitioners (meaning the developer) to fund any portion of the US 15/Biggs Ford Road interchange. The County Commissioners and the State Highway Administration believe the developers, rather than the taxpayers, should pay for this interchange.”  There is no planned sewer to either property.  Absent private funding for a new school this development will worsen school overcrowding.

Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services Division[8] (5/5/2009)on Crumland Farm annexation:  “With the potential increase in traffic traveling to the site, thus requiring vehicles to cross Route 15, the potential for accidents will increase. An increase in accidents on Route 15 may have an effect on the fire and rescue services, therefore, the Biggs Ford Road interchange should be constructed and operational before the first Use and Occupancy permit is issued for the proposed site.”

Town of Walkersville[9] (8/31/2009)  The Walkersville Burgess and Commissioners voted 3-2 in opposition to both the Crum and COPT/Thatcher annexation proposals and urged the Frederick City Board of Alderman to vote to deny them.

Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board River Board (5/11/2009) expresses concern about the proposed alteration of the natural landscape in the 100-year floodplain on the COPT/Thatcher property and the disruption of environmental processes and functions that follow from grading, filling, and building in a floodplain—mainly the natural storage and conveyance of flood waters.

Does your organization have a position?  If so, please send it to

[1] Frederick City Elected Officials, September 2009 (Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and Aldermen Marsha Hall, Alan Imhoff, Kip Koontz, Donna Kuzemchak, Paul Smith), Frederick City MD.

[2] Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Trip Generation Manual, 7th Edition, pp 268-269.

[3] Thomas, John B. (Pers Comm May 2010).  Cost for Biggs Ford Road interchange at Route 15, and the Monocacy Boulevard interchange, Frederick County Division of Planning.

[4] Tax map 57 and 48 at:

[5] Conrad, Peter G., Director, Local Government Assistance, Maryland Department of Planning.

[6] Slater, Gregory I, Director, Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering, State Highway Administration

[7] Board of County Commissioners, September 2009 (Jan Gardner, David Gray, John L Thompson, Kai J Hagen and Charles Jenkins), Frederick County MD.

[8] Dmuchowski, Michael P, Battalion Chief/Fire Marshall, Frederick County MD

[9] Hauver, Susan J, Planning and Zoning Administrator, Walkersville MD