September Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

September 2015

A Message from the Director…

As you may have read in the paper, one of the Mayor’s top priorities is working with community partners to make sure the 21st Century Schools Initiative is “done in a manner that allows the schools to help stabilize neighborhoods.”  Through the INSPIRE program, the Planning Department is bringing together community stakeholders and various city agencies to "ensure that these schools are the true community anchors that they can be."

Over the last year, we have been working very closely with stakeholders at, and around, Fort Worthington, Frederick, John Eager Howard, and Lyndhurst elementary schools to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and develop recommendations to help the school to serve as a strong community anchor.   I invite you to check out all the materials from these planning processes, in particular the Summary Report from the Listen Phase of each planning process.

As we complete the planning process at these schools and begin the planning process at additional schools, we hope that you will lend us your invaluable insight.  Please contact us to find out how you can get involved and visit the INSPIRE page of our website to keep updated on the INSPIRE program and the planning processes for individual school areas.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 

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TransForm Baltimore is the Zoning Code rewrite for Baltimore--the first new Zoning Code in over 40 years.  The goal of Transform is to create new zoning tools to promote mixed-use development, including new industrial mixed uses, improve urban design and the environment, preserve neighborhood character and simplify the development process.  This code is in City Council as Bill #12-0152 and has been under review since early in 2013.

We are pleased to report that the City Council Land Use Committee is now moving into voting sessions on this legislation.  These sessions are posted on their website.

We expect there to be Hearings on the Zoning Maps in October 2015.  We encourage you to urge your City Council representatives to support the legislation and enact this new code as soon as possible!


Montebello Water Filtration Plant’s 100th Anniversary

Completed in 1915 to national acclaim, Montebello has become a landmark of municipal water filtration plants and was the second largest and most modern of its type in the nation. 

Come celebrate this historic engineering marvel with music, food, boats, and family fun for the whole family.

Click here to download the event flyer.

September 19, 2015
Lake Montebello (map link)
3501 Hillen Road
Baltimore,MD 21218

Click here to learn more about the incredible significance of this historic landmark.


INSPIRE: Leveraging the Nearly Billion Dollar Investment in Baltimore City Schools


Through the 21st Century Schools Initiative, Baltimore City Public Schools, in partnership with the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore City, and the State of Maryland, will be investing nearly one billion dollars to renovate or replace schools over the next several years.    (see map of all Phase 1 school buildings)   On September 10, 2015, a public forum on the 21st Century School Buildings Program was held at Baltimore Design School.  A variety of stakeholders including students, parents, administrators, architects, community-based organizations, and elected officials attended to learn more about the program, share updates, and discuss insights from their involvement in the program.

Click on map to enlarge.

The Department of Planning is conducting a planning program for the neighborhoods around each of the new or renovated schools. The program is called INSPIRE, which stands for Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence.   


INSPIRE plans focus on improving the quarter-mile surrounding each 21st century school in order to strengthen the connection between the renovated schools and their surrounding neighborhoods.  Plans will articulate the community’s vision for guiding private investment as well as identify specific, implementable public improvements in areas such as transportation, housing, and open space to improve the surrounding neighborhood so that it can better support the school and its residents. 

Each plan identifies key routes to school and recommends improvements along these routes, such as sidewalk repairs, tree planting/pruning, crosswalks, lighting, etc.

Planning Process

The INSPIRE planning process has three phases: ListenCreate, and Deliver.   A Core Team of community volunteers will guide each phase of the INSPIRE process and serve as ambassadors of the program.


LISTEN:  Gathering Information

Stakeholders will identify existing conditions around the school and identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Information will be gathered through reviewing existing plans, neighborhood history, and demographic profiles and conducting walking tours, surveys, workshops, and focus groups. 

CREATE:  Drafting and Reviewing Recommendations

Planning Department staff will create draft recommendations based on stakeholder input during the information gathering phase of the planning process.  Stakeholders will review, refine, and prioritize the draft vision and recommendations.

DELIVER:  Writing and Reviewing the Plan

Planning Department staff will develop a draft plan.  Stakeholders will review the draft plan document prior to adoption by the Planning Commission. 

Planning Underway

As the feasibility studies are approved for each of the school buildings in phase one of the 21st Century School Buildings Plan, the Planning Department begins the first stage of the INSPIRE process with school communities and proceeds to move through the stages until there is an INSPIRE plan for each school neighborhood. 

The Planning Department has begun the INSPIRE process in eight of the school neighborhoods and will begin the process in two additional schools this fall. The graphic below depicts where in the process each of the school neighborhoods are with an estimated completion date for the INSPIRE plan.


For more details about INPSIRE and materials from each planning process that the Department is currently working in, please visit the INSPIRE webpage.