The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning

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A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

July 2016

A Message from the Director…

Over the past month, Department of Planning staff have engaged Baltimore City community stakeholders through a series of public meetings and workshops.

During a Green Network Plan public meeting on June 15th, residents and community members weighed in the types of green spaces they'd like to see developed in their neighborhood. 

A meeting on June 29 provided an opportunity for Baltimore community members to identify vacant properties that they'd like to see demolished, and those properties they'd like to see saved.

And there have been opportunities for residents to get involved in the INSPIRE planning process around the Arundel and Cherry Hill Elementary-Middle Schools.

These public meetings have taken new and innovative approaches to collecting community feedback. The Green Network and Demolition meetings featured interactive mapping on Ipads, allowing community members to record their preferences in real-time.

The INSPIRE planners leading the Arundel and Cherry Hill planning process engaged with the National Resource Network to pilot a scenario planning activity to gather ideas for community improvements using storytelling. 

Department of Planning staff are continually seeking out new ways to engage the community. If you have suggestions for improving our outreach, please share your ideas with us!

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 

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Baltimore's Green Network Plan Public Meeting Draws Large Audience

Green Network 2

The first Green Network Plan public meeting was held at Mother Seton Academy on June 15th, with over 130 people attending.  

The Green Network Plan will provide a thoughtful blueprint for turning vacant properties into parks, gardens, urban farms, open space and future development sites to benefit residents, promote economic development and make Baltimore communities more connected and sustainable.

We received great feedback on project goals, green space preferences, and locations for potential greening, demolition, and stabilization of vacant properties.  The feedback can be viewed on the project's website.  

For those unable to attend, we have also created an online mapping tool that allows you to view the locations identified by others at the public meetings or contribute your own locations for additional demolition, stabilization, and greening.  

Both the public meeting materials and the mapping tool link can be found here in the Documents & Maps section of the project website.

If you would like to submit additional comments or receive project updates and announcements for future meetings, please fill out the contact form available here.

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FEMA Recognizes Baltimore's Flood Resiliency Efforts as Among the Nation's Best

On June 22, 2016 top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized the City of Baltimore for its outstanding achievements in reducing flood risks and increasing community resilience.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake accepted a plaque recognizing the city’s proactive floodplain management program and community preparedness work. Baltimore City achieved a Class 5 designation under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) certification. Baltimore’s score places it in the top 10 percent of all CRS participating communities, and entitles City residents in the flood zones to a 25 percent discount on flood insurance premiums.

CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. By reducing flood damage to insurable properties, strengthening and supporting the insurance aspects of the NFIP, and encouraging a more comprehensive approach to floodplain management, the City is eligible for discounted flood insurance premium rates. Baltimore property owners pay almost $2.5 million collectively in flood insurance annually. The CRS Class 5 designation will save them almost half a million dollars every year, reducing property expenses while helping to mitigate costly flood damage.

CRS for Compass

The CRS uses a Class rating system to determine flood insurance premium reductions for policyholders. For CRS participating communities, flood insurance premium rates are discounted in increments of 5% (i.e., a Class 1 community would receive a 45% premium discount, while a Class 9 community would receive a 5% discount). The CRS classes for local communities are based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories:

  1. Public Information,
  2. Mapping and Regulations,
  3. Flood Damage Reduction, and
  4. Flood Preparedness.

The City earned the distinction of a Class Five designation in part because of the City’s demonstrated success building a strong community outreach and education component into the flood preparedness efforts.

As the impact of climate change grows, Baltimore faces an increasing number of challenges stemming from severe tidal and riverine flooding. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel caused $4.8 million in damages and left 70,000 residents without power. In April 2014, four inches of rain fell in a few hours leading to massive flooding citywide and overwhelming infrastructure systems. Through its participation in the CRS rating system, Baltimore is better equipped to protect people and property and make the city more resilient overall.

The CRS program is managed by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. More information can be found at

Port Covington Draft Master Plan Approved by Planning Commission

The owners of Under Armour have purchased a 50-acre industrial site in Port Covington for their Headquarters and campus.  The site is home to the former Wal-mart and Sam’s Club.  In addition, Sagamore Development Company, owned by Kevin Plank (founder and CEO of Under Armour), has purchased several parcels in the broader Port Covington area for redevelopment. At 260 acres, this is projected to be one of the largest urban redevelopment projects across the United States. The scale of this project will not only be transformative for South Baltimore, but for the entire City. 

The Draft Master Plan was presented to the Planning Commission on June 2, 2016 and made available for public comment. Comments collected have been posted to the Department of Planning's website.

On June 23, 2016, the Planning Commission unanimously adopted the Port Covington Master Plan.  This plan sets the vision and framework for the many subsequent land use and other actions needed for implementation of the Draft Master Plan. On July 14, the Planning Commission will review the repeal of the Urban Renewal Plan for the Port Covington area as well as Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, legislation.

For more information on the TIF legislation, follow the links below:

Council Bill 16-0669: Port Covington Development District

Council Bill 16-0670: Port Covington Bond Issuance

Council Bill 16-0671: Port Covington Special Taxing District

The Draft Master Plan and presentation may be viewed on the Department of Planning's website.

Port Covington Master Plan