December 23, 2013
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Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

 
Seventeen Maryland communities – including the resort town of Ocean City and the retail and college hub of Towson – were added to the state’s list of Sustainable Communities this fall, joining the statewide initiative to strengthen reinvestment and revitalization in Maryland’s older neighborhoods.
 
Sustainable Communities seek to conserve resources; provide green spaces and parks for recreation and agriculture and conserve historical and cultural resources. They are communities that have developed a comprehensive plan to bring public and private investments together to increase affordable housing opportunities and transit-oriented development.
 
Governor O’Malley’s Smart Growth subcabinet has approved 55 Sustainable Communities under Maryland’s Sustainable Communities Act of 2010.
 
Maryland’s newest Sustainable Communities include:
 
Anne Arundel County – Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie;
Baltimore County – Towson;
Carroll County – Taneytown;
Cecil County – Port Deposit;
Dorchester County – Cambridge;
Frederick County – Thurmont;
Garrett County – Eight municipalities;
Kent County – Chestertown;
Montgomery County – 50 square miles of the county’s developed core;
Prince George’s County – Forest Heights;
Talbot County – Easton, St. Michaels;
Worcester County – Ocean City, Snow Hill.
 
See below for project descriptions:
 
Anne Arundel County
 
Annapolis – as the capital of Maryland and the county seat of Anne Arundel County, Annapolis is known for its enduring economic institutions, historic government buildings, stable neighborhoods, and waterside aesthetics in the unique downtown area. Building upon previous state designations, the City will use the Sustainable Community designation to work with various partners to advance goals of improving walkability of the City Dock and Eastport areas, reducing carbon emissions, mitigating storm-water runoff, expanding workforce opportunities, and the preservation of affordable housing. The implementation of a “Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan” is proposed to protect valuable resources located in the 100-year floodplain as an effort to maintain the community’s vibrant historic and cultural character.
 
Brooklyn Park – an older streetcar suburb of Baltimore City and the first Sustainable Community in Anne Arundel County.  It is home of the Chesapeake Arts Center, a multi-disciplinary arts facility, and is located within close proximity to the North Linthicum and Nursery Road light rails stops. The county will work with various partners to implement the following revitalization strategies: improve the aesthetics of the Ritchie Highway commercial corridor and ensure there are pedestrian and bike connections, develop a plaza/activity center that can be used as community gathering space, create development incentives for the provision of workforce housing in strategic infill or redevelopment sites, include energy retro-fits in all property rehabilitation projects where feasible and encourage commercial property owners to fill vacant storefronts with arts-related interim uses, such as rotating gallery displays.
 
Glen Burnie – is the third Sustainable Community designated in Anne Arundel County. Characterized by its stable post-World War II housing stock, strong workforce population, and regional transportation links through the modernization of the historic Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad as well as access to major highways (I-97, MD 2, and MD 3) and Baltimore Light Rail System, Glen Burnie has become the second most urbanized and dense area in the County. Through previous state and local designations such as Designated Neighborhoods, the Glen Burnie Historic District, and the Commercial Revitalization District, the County has fostered strong partnerships with organizations such as the Arundel Community Development Services, Inc. and the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation, who will assist with implementing the Sustainable Communities revitalization strategies.  The new Sustainable Community Action Plan promotes goals of revitalizing the Glen Burnie Town Center, encouraging adaptive reuse of historic buildings, rehabilitating the aging housing stock, improving connectivity through transit opportunities, creating multifunctional green spaces, and creating a mixed-use transit oriented development near the Cromwell light rail station.
 
Baltimore County
 
Towson – Sustainability efforts will be targeted along the York Road corridor so that it offers retail, restaurant and entertainment opportunities with attractive buildings featuring pedestrian curb appeal and offering day and night time uses.  The county also plans to create and maintain attractive and user friendly physical connection between Towson University and the Towson Core, expand transportation alternatives for transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists, promote environmental stewardship by requiring a fifty percent reduction in impervious surface in new development, implementing single-stream recycling and supporting historic preservation and affordable housing efforts in the historic African-American neighborhood of East Towson, which was settled in the mid-1800’s by freed slaves.


Carroll County


Taneytown – is the fourth municipality in Carroll County to receive this designation.  It has historical and cultural significance, being a Maryland and National Main Street and a part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.  In collaboration with the Maryland Department of Transportation and other state agencies, the city recently completed an impressive two-mile streetscape along MD Route 140. The city plans to build on the aesthetic and pedestrian improvements from the streetscape and create upper story redevelopment and business development opportunities along Route 140 and in other parts of downtown.  The city also intends to encourage mixed-use and senior housing development located within walking distance of Main Street, in addition to exploring a “pay as you throw” solid waste and recycling program.


Cecil County
 
Port Deposit – a historic granite town adjacent to the Susquehanna River, is the third municipality in Cecil County to receive a Sustainable Community designation.  It is home to the Jacob Tome Gas House, an 1850 waterfront building currently in restoration to serve as a Visitors Center and Research Facility for the endangered Northern Map Turtle. The Town will work with various partners to implement the following revitalization strategies: improve the aesthetic quality and pedestrian and bicycle connections along MD 222 and MD 275; develop the Marina Park to include a visitor’s comfort station and community garden; implement town-wide stormwater management improvements; educate and assist residents with obtaining employment; and promote Port Deposit as an ecotourism destination.


Dorchester County


Cambridge – a prime waterfront community on the Chesapeake Bay, has a unique historic colonial heritage dating to the late eighteenth century. Through such strategies as waterfront development, revitalization of the historic Main Street, and housing rehabilitation, this newly approved Sustainable Community will support its recreational, residential and economic development goals. The Sustainable Community Action Plan also features strategies to expand pedestrian and bicycle connections, support business expansion, and implement “green street” projects across the City.


Frederick County
 
Thurmont – is the third community in Frederick County to receive a Sustainable Communities designation.  Bordered to the West by Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, the town is a participant in the Maryland Scenic Byway and the Route 15 Journey through Hallowed Ground programs. Sustainability efforts will focus on revitalization of the Thurmont Main Street, continuing development of the local tourism industry, and the conservation of significant cultural and natural resources. The Sustainable Community Action Plan also features strategies for local business development, initiatives to diversify housing opportunities, and significant infrastructure improvements to civic, recreational and wastewater facilities.
 
Garrett County
 
Eight Municipalities:  Towns of Oakland, Mountain Lake Park, Loch Lynn Heights, Kitzmiller, Accident, Grantsville, Friendsville, Deer Park
 
In a county where approximately 20 percent of the land is state-owned forest or park land, its sole eight municipalities have been designated as a Sustainable Community area.  The municipalities will work in collaboration with the Garrett County Community Action Agency and build on their great assets, including historic town centers, strong educational services, safe communities with diverse housing, and impressive surrounding natural resources. Specific initiatives focus on increasing energy efficiency, broadening access to high speed broadband internet, increasing and rehabilitating affordable housing stock, and strengthening the effectiveness of town branding and gateway initiatives.
 
Kent County
 
Chestertown – the Kent County seat, is a major historic port town located on the Chester River. Home to Washington College, the Garfield Center for the Arts, and the Schooner Sultana educational vessel, it is the first Sustainable Community designated in the County. The Town will work with various partners to implement the following revitalization strategies: strengthen the historic district through infill development and adaptive reuse; increase recreational opportunities including an expanded rail trail and Marina project;enhance energy efficiency and stormwater management practices; develop a greenbelt around the Town; and enforce a planning strategy of slow and sensitive growth designed to preserve cultural and natural resources.
 
Montgomery County
 
Approximately fifty square miles in Montgomery County’s developed core have been designated as a Sustainable Community, including significant portions of the nine incorporated areas of Barnesville, Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase View, Gaithersburg, Glen Echo, Kensington, Martin’s Addition, Rockville, and Takoma Park. The county’s Sustainable Community Action Plan details a regional approach to sustainability, focusing on implementable strategies within five County regions (East County, Mid County, Up County, Bethesda Chevy Chase, Silver Spring), and the three largest municipalities (Rockville, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park). The county will build on its great assets, including significant regional economic and employment centers, educational facilities, access to open space and public transportation.
 
In the East County Region, plans focus on improving transit services, redevelopment of under-utilized industrial land, and the creation of a unique bio/life science, education and research community. Mid-County strategies aim to promote a healthier balance of commercial and residential uses while focusing on small business retention and Transit Oriented Development at the Wheaton and White Flint metro stations. Other strategies include transforming portions of MD Route 355 into a walkable urban boulevard. Plans in the Up County Region look to build on proposed bus rapid transit stations as part of the Corridor City Transitway project.
 
The plans for the Silver Spring Region focus on preserving affordable housing and small businesses, in addition to planning and preparing for the development of the Purple Line.  Similarly, plans within the three largest municipalities of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park will focus on Transit Oriented Development opportunities, redevelopment of under-used commercial properties, maintaining an accessible mix of housing, small businesses retention, and best practices in environmental sustainability.
 
Prince George’s County
 
District Heights –  is located inside the I-495 Beltway and is a recognized “Historical Community of Prince George’s County”. Through such strategies as façade and streetscape improvements in the commercial district, better connecting lower income residents to youth programs and housing initiatives, and seeking redevelopment opportunities in its central business district along the Marlboro Pike, this newly approved Sustainable Community will achieve its sustainability goals. The Sustainable Community Action Plan also features strategies to promote “green” lifestyles through expanded trail networks and energy efficiency programs, build on recent successes in crime reduction, and support expansion of both the tax base and amount of small businesses.
 
Forest Heights - located in close proximity to Washington, DC, is well-known for its established residential character, easy access to regional transit networks, and a recently renovated Town Hall that serves as a regional model for stormwater management and sustainable building design. Drawing on these and other assets, the Sustainable Community Action Plan outlines the following strategies: Expand opportunities in housing and job training; implement sustainable green infrastructure projects across the town; provide increased recreational opportunities to residents through an expanded trail network and the creation of a Community Center; implement town-wide stream restoration projects; and work to both expand the retail base and improve the pedestrian environment.


Talbot County
 
Easton – Located on the Eastern Shore, Easton serves as the county seat for Talbot County. Established in the early 1700s, the town has been home to many notable historic landmarks such as the Avalon Theater, the “Hill” (the earliest settlement of free African Americans in the United States), and two churches where Frederick Douglass preached. The town has many ambitious goals for the area including promoting sustainable development practices; pursue mixed-use zoning throughout downtown; preserve historic neighborhoods and structures; and increase the walkability and overall aesthetic appearance of the Downtown Easton area.
 
St. Michaels – established in 1677, was an attractive destination for settlers engaging in tobacco growing and ship building and was developed in a traditional 19th century pattern that revolved around a town square. The town plans to use the new Sustainable Community designation to continue to uphold its historical assets of walkability and connectivity to both land and sea. A few of the specific goals of the Sustainable Community Action Plan include reduce impervious surfaces and increase green spaces; enhance the cultural and arts resources; continue preservation of historic structures such as “The Mill;” provide incentives for year-round businesses and employment; and pursue mixed-used developments to provide sustainable infill and affordable housing options for residents.
 
Worcester County
 
Ocean City - one of Maryland’s recently designated Main Streets, has been the quintessential tourist destination on the Eastern Shore for more than 100 years. The Town is the home to many iconic leisure activities such as Trimper Amusement rides, the Atlantic Hotel, and the Alaska Stand eatery, all conveniently located on the lively and well-maintained boardwalk. Based upon the successful foundation of the previous Community Legacy designation and revitalization strategies implemented by the Town and the Ocean City Development Corporation, the new Sustainable Community designation aims to continue revitalization of this historic beach community while preparing for future growth in the tourism industry in an environmentally responsible manner. The Sustainable Community Action Plan focuses on efforts to increase workforce housing, modernize existing structures to code, plan for vulnerable sea-level rise areas, promote small business development, and improve the Town’s walkability.
 
 Snow Hill – is the seat of Worcester County and has several revitalization designations to its name, including an Arts & Entertainment District designation, State Enterprise Zone, and “Preserve America Community,” a federal designation recognizing the town’s efforts to maintain and celebrate its historic assets. It is the third municipality in Worcester County to receive Sustainable Community designation. The Town will work with various partners to implement the following revitalization strategies: complete a study of the aging water/sewer infrastructure, reduce impervious surfaces and create and maintain vegetated buffers along the Pocomoke River, attract a grocery store and other business to Town, pursue a Sustainable Maryland Certified designation; and focus economic development efforts to reduce downtown retail vacancies and increase live/work unit availability.