ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s Smart Growth initiatives will get a $228 million boost under the budget Gov. Parris N. Glendening released Tuesday, with transportation and the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas garnering the largest increases.
Glendening also announced the creation of a special Smart Growth secretary to coordinate the multifaceted set of initiatives aimed at curbing sprawl and preserving open spaces. He hasn’t selected anyone for the position yet, but he said the new secretary would likely be from outside the government.
The Smart Growth Areas Act, passed in 1997, spawned a series of specific anti-sprawl programs. Some include the Live Near Your Work Program, which provides grants for residents who purchase homes close to their jobs, and the Rural Legacy Program, which uses state money to preserve undeveloped tracts of land. He has also used Smart Growth to halt several transportation projects that would lead to sprawl.
As part of his plan to preserve open spaces, Glendening wants to increase funding for the Rural Legacy Program, by 28 percent to the $38.6 million and add another $201 million over five years. He has also proposed a new $40 million program called GreenPrint, which will attempt to protect environmentally sensitive areas not covered by other Smart Growth programs.
“This is critical to protecting the tributaries that feed into the Chesapeake Bay,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation spokeswoman Susan O’Brien.
The GreenPrint target is to join environmentally sensitive areas into a network of hubs, or areas greater than 100 acres.
Glendening also has proposed $138 million in Smart Growth transit initiatives, and another $956 million spread over six years. Much of that money will go toward neighborhood road and sidewalk improvements.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauded Glendening’s proposals to reign in development and to strengthen neighborhoods through the proposed $15 million Community Legacy Program.
“The more attractive you make existing communities,” O’Brien said, “the less people need to move to farmland and open areas.”