Watch the youtube: Plan for the Valleys, Baltimore County, receives national planning award

Citizen files ethics complaint against Commissioners DeLauter, Young, Shreve and Smith

In October 2012 a complaint was submitted to the Frederick County, Maryland Ethics Commission

charging Kirby Delauter with Conflict of Interest and charging Blaine Young, C. Paul Smith, Kirby Delauter, and Billy Shreve with intentional mis-use of prestige of office and public position for the private gain of another.

Read the entire complaint here.

Some of the points of the complaint are:

1.  The BOCC increased the number of members of the Commission from three to five, which with normal turnover of existing members, provided the BOCC the opportunity to select four new members for the five-member Commission.

2.  The BOCC then tried to insure that a newly constituted Commission would be more likely to rule favorably toward Delauter, if and when an ethics complaint was filed alleging conflict of interest violations along the lines laid out in Opinion 10-2.

3.  Interviews were conducted on August 19, 2011. Thirteen questions were asked. Among the questions were questions directly related to Delauter’s ethics problem. The BOCC, on August 25, 2011 appointed Hayden Duke to the Commission.

4.  Following the revision of the Ethics Ordinance by the BOCC, interviews for three new Commission members took place on April 17, 2012. Five of the sixteen pre-composed questions revolved around Ethics Opinion 10-2 and related issues.

5.  After April 17, 2012, the Commission included Duke and three newly appointed members, Otis, Goode, and Dacey. All had been interviewed for their positions by the BOCC, including Delauter, and had been asked a number of specific questions relating to the Delauter ethics matter. They were then selected by the BOCC after being examined and evaluated based on the answers to those questions.


However, because of the facts presented herein and because of the “appearance of conflict of interest” on the part of a majority of the Commission, the Commission is urged to refer this matter in its entirety to  the Maryland State Ethics Commission(5) with a request for their assistance. Even though the State Ethics  Commission does not enforce local Ethics Ordinances, this is a unique situation. For this Commission to act in this matter would deprive the people of their right to be assured that the impartiality and  independent judgment of public officials is maintained. For the Commission to act in this matter would   erode the trust and confidence  of the people that Frederick County’s business is conducted in a manner free of improper influence and even the appearance of improper influence. On November 17, 2011 Paul  Smith, Blaine Young, Billy Shreve, and Kirby Delauter approved and adopted the new Ethics Ordinance.   They and the Commission should be held to the high standards prescribed in that document, to the benefit of the Citizens of Frederick County.

Calling all eco-artists, deadline Friday March 23rd!


All entries must be received by Friday, March 23rd!


Sustainable growth policies for rural areas: making communities attractive for investment

Maryland Department of Planning’s Sustainable Growth Commission

is studying ways to make smart growth development more economically attractive to the developers.

Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission: how can we encourage infill?

How do we persuade more people and businesses to choose existing communities when they choose where they will live, work and invest?

Can we encourage development in places that are targeted for growth and revitalization by streamlining the development approval process in those locations?

What is the best way to implement sustainable growth policies in rural areas of the State?

Read minutes from the last meeting here.

12-2011 Frederick City Begins Comprehensive Rezoning Process

Frederick City Begins Comprehensive Rezoning Process

(to view entire map click on it)

Frederick City’s Planning Department is accepting letters requesting zoning changes from property owners until Friday, January 27, 2012. The city will only accept requests for a zoning classification when the zoning change would be consistent with the land use designation as shown on the [2010 Comprehensive Plan Map](http://) (see left). For questions contact: Joe Adkins, Deputy Director of Planning, email // phone: 301/600-1499.

(NYT Opinion Page)The Death of the Fringe Suburb

November 25, 2011

The Death of the Fringe Suburb



DRIVE through any number of outer-ring suburbs in America, and you’ll see boarded-up and vacant strip malls, surrounded by vast seas of empty parking spaces. These forlorn monuments to the real estate crash are not going to come back to life, even when the economy recovers. And that’s because the demand for the housing that once supported commercial activity in many exurbs isn’t coming back, either.

By now, nearly five years after the housing crash, most Americans understand that a mortgage meltdown was the catalyst for the Great Recession, facilitated by underregulation of finance and reckless risk-taking. Less understood is the divergence between center cities and inner-ring suburbs on one hand, and the suburban fringe on the other.

It was predominantly the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe that caused the mortgage collapse.

In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs contained most of the expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot, according to data I analyzed from the Zillow real estate database. Today, the most expensive housing is in the high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in their metropolitan areas are Capitol Hill in Seattle; Virginia Highland in Atlanta; German Village in Columbus, Ohio, and Logan Circle in Washington. Considered slums as recently as 30 years ago, they have been transformed by gentrification.

Simply put, there has been a profound structural shift — a reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.

The shift is durable and lasting because of a major demographic event: the convergence of the two largest generations in American history, the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the millennials (born between 1979 and 1996), which today represent half of the total population.

Many boomers are now empty nesters and approaching retirement. Generally this means that they will downsize their housing in the near future. Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The millennials are just now beginning to emerge from the nest — at least those who can afford to live on their own. This coming-of-age cohort also favors urban downtowns and suburban town centers — for lifestyle reasons and the convenience of not having to own cars.

Over all, only 12 percent of future homebuyers want the drivable suburban-fringe houses that are in such oversupply, according to the Realtors survey. This lack of demand all but guarantees continued price declines. Boomers selling their fringe housing will only add to the glut. Nothing the federal government can do will reverse this.

Many drivable-fringe house prices are now below replacement value, meaning the land under the house has no value and the sticks and bricks are worth less than they would cost to replace. This means there is no financial incentive to maintain the house; the next dollar invested will not be recouped upon resale. Many of these houses will be converted to rentals, which are rarely as well maintained as owner-occupied housing. Add the fact that the houses were built with cheap materials and methods to begin with, and you see why many fringe suburbs are turning into slums, with abandoned housing and rising crime.

The good news is that there is great pent-up demand for walkable, centrally located neighborhoods in cities like Portland, Denver, Philadelphia and Chattanooga, Tenn. The transformation of suburbia can be seen in places like Arlington County, Va., Bellevue, Wash., and Pasadena, Calif., where strip malls have been bulldozed and replaced by higher-density mixed-use developments with good transit connections.

Reinvesting in America’s built environment — which makes up a third of the country’s assets — and reviving the construction trades are vital for lifting our economic growth rate. (Disclosure: I am the president of Locus, a coalition of real estate developers and investors and a project of Smart Growth America, which supports walkable neighborhoods and transit-oriented development.)

Some critics will say that investment in the built environment risks repeating the mistake that caused the recession in the first place. That reasoning is as faulty as saying that technology should have been neglected after the dot-com bust, which precipitated the 2001 recession.

The cities and inner-ring suburbs that will be the foundation of the recovery require significant investment at a time of government retrenchment. Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements — what traffic engineers dismissively call “alternative transportation” — are vital. So is the repair of infrastructure like roads and bridges. Places as diverse as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Charlotte, Denver and Washington have recently voted to pay for “alternative transportation,” mindful of the dividends to be reaped. As Congress works to reauthorize highway and transit legislation, it must give metropolitan areas greater flexibility for financing transportation, rather than mandating that the vast bulk of the money can be used only for roads.

For too long, we over-invested in the wrong places. Those retail centers and subdivisions will never be worth what they cost to build. We have to stop throwing good money after bad. It is time to instead build what the market wants: mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability and create jobs.

Christopher B. Leinberger is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of practice in urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.


October 2011 rezoning fact/q and a sheet: see what could happen near your home






Current Growth Policies versus Smart Growth Scenarios: comparison of costs and environmental implications


Data table from PlanMaryland (page 2-27).










Public Comment on PlanMaryland due by November 9, 2011

Revised Draft Plan – September 2011

After reviewing 120 days of public comment on its initial draft of PlanMaryland the Maryland Department of Planning on September 9, 2011 released a revised draft. MDP is requesting public comment on the revised draft through November 9, 2011 before it prepares a plan to submit to Governor Martin O’Malley. The focus of the revised draft was to respond to input and to make the document shorter and more accessible.

“Throughout the past summer, we took hundreds of comments into account in revising the first draft of the plan that we released in April. All of the input was vital, useful and taken seriously. Many ideas helped shape this phase of the plan and others will help guide the implementation of the plan. What PlanMaryland seeks to accomplish over the next 25 years is saving 300,000 acres of farmland and forest, saving $1.5 billion a year in infrastructure costs and stimulating economic development, jobs and revitalization in our towns, cities and other existing communities that already have the facilities to support growth.”

Richard Eberhart Hall, AICP

Maryland Secretary of Planning


PlanMaryland Revised Draft Plan


FNP: Commissioners ease Frederick County road improvement requirements


Commissioners ease Frederick County road improvement requirements

Originally published September 07, 2011 

By Bethany Rodgers

Frederick County commissioners Tuesday evening voted to ease portions of a law requiring builders to shoulder some financial burden for the increased traffic flow their developments would bring to area roads.Commissioners President Blaine Young said the changes would help clarify a complicated law and get rid of a few of “the ridiculous shackles put on the business community.” The requirements are part of Frederick County’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, a law intended to prevent growth from overburdening area roads and schools.

The changes to the ordinance passed in a 4-1 vote after a public hearing, with all board members supporting the rewrite except for Commissioner David Gray.

“I think this is a terrible mistake,” said Gray, adding that the revisions could result in less funding for improvements. “You’re going to pay a price down the road É if you don’t make the requirements for adequate roads up front.”

The changes to the APFO included allowing more medium-sized businesses to contribute a share of money for roadwork instead of requiring them to fund entire projects, said Ron Burns, county traffic engineer.

In addition, the new ordinance would exempt developers from paying for their effect on freeway ramps and from footing the bill for congestion caused by “the sins of the past,” or previous building, according to the staff report.

When working on the rewrite, Burns said county staff looked to make the ordinance more jobs-friendly.

The Frederick County Planning Commission recommended that commissioners not adopt the changes to the ordinance, Burns said.

A representative of the building community appeared before the board in support of the alterations.

As it was written, the ordinance made it “extremely difficult for some businesses to move ahead” with projects, said Chris Smariga, member of the Frederick County Land Use Council.

The new version would make the county more competitive in attracting growth while still asking developers to pay a fair share, he added.

Commissioner Paul Smith said he believed the revisions to the ordinance by and large were minor and cleared obstacles that blocked some development. Young disagreed, saying he thought the new ordinance would have a deep effect and was a large step toward providing local builders with a more straightforward set of requirements.

“I thought you had to be Houdini to figure out what all that meant,” Young said of the law before the changes. “Hopefully, this will bring some predictability and clarity to the document.”