ANNAPOLIS – People around the country are interested in Maryland’s next step in fighting sprawl, Smart Codes, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said Thursday from a Smart Growth conference he is attending in San Diego.
Glendening created a Smart Codes strategy group in July to rewrite rehabilitation and development regulations to promote Smart Growth, an initiative designed to curb urban sprawl and encourage growth in existing communities.
That group unveiled its initial draft Monday and plans to hand the governor its final draft next month. Smart Codes will be a part of his legislative package in January, the governor said.
Sprawl is a universal problem, Glendening said in a telephone interview with Capital News Service, as evidenced by the members of his panel at the conference.
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, National Governors’ Association chairman and Glendening, NGA vice-chairman, were the panelists for a discussion on how state governments are working to overcome problems with sprawl.
“He is a Republican from a western state, Utah, and I’m a Democrat from an eastern state,” Glendening said. “And yet our problems are almost exactly the same.”
The Urban Land Institute, a land use research group, and the Environmental Protection Agency sponsored the third annual “Partners for Smart Growth” conference in San Diego this week.
Many people at the conference were interested in Maryland’s Smart Growth legislation and its use of state funds to discourage sprawl, said Ann Oliveri, ULI senior vice president for leadership and outreach.
States have to get involved because sprawl is a regional problem too big for municipalities to handle, she said.
“With modesty, I’m pleased that Maryland is held up in almost every panel as the forerunner in this, as the state that started the debate and that took the action,” Glendening said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s nice to see us leading the country.”
Glendening said discussions at the conference have centered on topics like social equity, how to encourage reinvestment in poorer communities; promoting mass transit over road building; and problems with brownfields, a federal redevelopment program to clean up industrial waste sites.
The conference slogan this year is “Smart Growth is hot.” Glendening said people nationwide are realizing that sprawl is a major problem and many of the discussions at the conference are about what first steps cities and states can take.
Glendening said participants came from all over the country and many different fields: builders, developers, local officials and community activists. The issue is not just an environmental one, he said, it is also affecting communities fiscally.
At least two-thirds of states are actively preserving open space or moving to stop sprawl, Glendening said. States like Georgia, Maine, New Jersey and Minnesota have already adopted anti-sprawl initiatives but others are just realizing how much they need to fight sprawl, he said.
“Smart Growth is an issue with other states but Maryland is definitely in the forefront,” said Peggy Meehan, Urban Land Institute communications director.