Tuesday, May 29 2012 @ 05:16 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
[B' Spokes: Just to highlight one of the many great folks at Planning in Maryland.]
by Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog
Secretary of Planning, State of Maryland
Richard Hall has led Maryland to the forefront of state-level smart growth planning. Photo: Flickr
Politically, you can’t give enough credit to Governor Martin O’Malley for Maryland’s new state-level smart growth plan, PlanMaryland. O’Malley stood up to rural opposition and muscled legislation through late last year to put in place what may be the most progressive state-level land use planning in the country.
But you also can’t separate the governor’s successes from the man behind the scenes, turning policy positions into reality: Richard Hall. With Hall’s help, for decades Maryland has been laying the groundwork to be a national leader in smart growth.
Hall started at Maryland’s Department of Planning in 1992. He worked his way from principal planner to director of land use planning to head of the agency, a title he has held for five years.
All the while he was helping move the state toward this moment. Hall’s work contributed to the state’s Smart Growth Act in 1997, which established “priority growth areas” for the state and set the stage for PlanMaryland.
Now, under Hall’s leadership, Maryland will decide which areas of the state will be prioritized for development. The process, by its nature, divides places into winners and losers and is sure to be a thorny undertaking, full of political hurdles. But the work of PlanMaryland has always been thorny.
Hall doesn’t shy away from facing the critics head on. “Some lawmakers contend they want to ‘save rural Maryland’ from PlanMaryland,” he said in a local forum recently. “But their aim seems to be to ‘pave rural Maryland.’”
Hall and O’Malley both recognize that for too long Maryland’s system was already dividing the state into winners and losers, as the interests of cities and existing communities were supplanted by unplanned, sprawling development. It will take strong leadership to change the dynamic. But these two are up to the task.