June Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

June 2015

A Message from the Director…

This month marks a milestone for many of our great partners working around the Baltimore region to achieve greater prosperity through sustainable practices.

In the spirit of sustainability and resiliency, Baltimore City was awarded two unprecedented awards.  Last week, STAR Communities presented Baltimore City with the 5-STAR Community Rating.  

In addition, last month at the National Adaptation Forum Baltimore was awarded the inaugural Prize for Progress in Adaptation from the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, recognizing the City as innovative and forward-thinking in terms of climate change. 

Join me in celebrating all that Baltimore has to offer, from summer festivals that embrace community, art, music and culture, to our many great parks to recreate in, but also the greater region from which we draw residents and visitors alike to make our city livable – and sustainable.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director


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It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Planning Commissioner Benjamin Glenn, Sr.  He served for 8 years on the Commission, 5 of those years as Vice Chair.  As Citizens Representative from his appointment on March 8, 2007, he demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, expertise, and dedication to the goal of enhancing the development and growth potential of the City.  On behalf of the City of Baltimore and the members of the Planning Commission we express our gratitude for his dedicated service to the citizens of Baltimore.

Click here for the Baltimore Sun’s obituary.

Morgan State University Student Work on Display

The Department will be showcasing studio work from the Morgan State University School of Architecture & Planning Urban Design Studio through the middle of July. The students explored the redevelopment of Perkins Homes, including the economic, social and environmental revitalization of this public housing community within the context of the existing urban fabric of Southeast Baltimore.  The students had the benefit of hearing from existing residents, as well as Baltimore Housing, under Deputy Commissioner Peter Engel, whose Department is currently working on a redevelopment Plan for the housing complex.

Planning Department lobby display.

STAR Community Rating System


On June 11, 2015, the City of Baltimore was awarded the certified 5-STAR Community Rating and recognized as a top achiever in national sustainability by STAR Communities, a DC-based nonprofit that administers the rating system.  Baltimore is only the third community in the nation to achieve the 5-STAR Rating, the highest level of certification.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake accepted the recognition at a celebration event hosted by the City’s Office of Sustainability in Federal Hill Park.


The STAR Community Rating System is the nation’s first comprehensive framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability. Local leaders use the rating system’s evaluation measures to assess their current level of sustainability, set targets for moving ahead, and measure progress along the way.  The rating system encompasses economic, environmental and social performance measures for both local governments and the broader community.

Baltimore City’s application detailed the City’s achievements across 7 goal areas, 44 sustainability objectives, with a total of 526 different measurable indicators. The goal areas include built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; equity and empowerment; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems.  A few examples of notable achievements within the assessment include:

  • Climate & Energy: Baltimore has demonstrated a 17.85% reduction in community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past 5 years. The City is a leader in climate adaptation, hazard mitigation and resilience.
  • Education, Arts & Community: Baltimore demonstrates high levels of Community Cohesion, in part due to its strong neighborhood culture with 98% of residents living within one mile of a community venue that offers free services and events.
  • Innovation & Process: The City has taken an innovative approach to addressing issues caused by vacant properties, including scheduling regular mowings and running programs like Vacants to Value and the Growing Green Initiative.

To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at www.STARcommunities.org. To learn more about the City’s sustainability efforts, visit the Office of Sustainability website at www.baltimoresustainability.org.


Adaptation Award


The American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) awarded the first ever Prize for Progress in Adaptation to the City of Baltimore at the National Adaptation Forum in May, 2015. Baltimore is on the cutting edge of innovation, incorporating climate preparedness into all aspects of city planning.  The key element that puts the City ahead of others is the Disaster Preparedness Plan (DP3), which was adopted in October, 2013.

Click here to view the award summary prepared by ASAP .


Since adoption of the DP3, Baltimore has focused on implementation including extensive stakeholder engagement with community groups and traditionally under served communities to create more than 1,200 emergency plans and emergency kits through the Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Help Each Other campaign. Additionally, the City has:

  • Adopted a new floodplain code that develops flood resilience areas, uses the 0.2% flood as the regulatory standard, increases freeboard (the elevation added to the base flood elevation)to two feet, and integrates with ASCE-24 (American Society of Civil Engineers Flood Resistant Design and Construction document).
  • Created the Growing Green Initiative, which uses sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective practices for reusing vacant land to green neighborhoods, reduce stormwater runoff, grow food, sequester carbon, and create community spaces and natural habitat areas.
  • Included Adaptation in Capital Improvement Processes (CIP) so that all departments requesting CIP funding explain how their project takes climate change into account and makes the city more resilient. 

Click here for more information about the Disaster Preparedness Project and Plan (DP3)

For more information about the American Society of Adaptation Professionals visit their website at  https://adaptationprofessionals.org/


Cool off with "Tasty History"!

Carriage located at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Nothing dispels summer heat like ice cream, especially in Baltimore.  It is not surprising then, that a Baltimorean was the first to begin producing ice cream on a large scale.  In 1851 Jacob Fussell began production in York County, Pennsylvania and shipped it to Baltimore.  Soon thereafter Fussell opened an ice cream plant in the area known today as Oldtown.  By 1886 after moving to Washington D.C., he was selling ice cream up and down the East Coast. 

Image courtesy of www.baltimore.picturesofus.net.