Baltimore City Department of Planning e-News - February 2020

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Baltimore City Department of Planning eNewsletter  -  February 2020

A Message from Chris Ryer, Director

Chris Ryer

This month, we are getting in gear to train community members as Census 2020 Ambassadors. Ambassadors are volunteer leaders trained to conduct educational and outreach events at the community level. The Department of Planning is providing training, materials and swag in advance of the Census. If you want to get involved, please let us know by signing up via this link.

Don't forget - households will begin receiving an invitation to complete the Census on March 12.

We are also marking Black History month at the Planning Department. In our newsletter below, we highlight a profile of preservationist Brent Leggs, who has been a leader in the movement to preserve buildings of significance to Black history. And, check out the Sun article from February 4 which makes note of 14 notable sites around town commemorating African American history, from the Arch Social Club to the Eubie Blake Cultural Center. We will highlight additional notable places, people and events this month on our social media channels.

Chris Ryer, Director

Census 2020: Critical Dates and Timeline


Starting March 12, households will receive an invitation in the mail to respond online to the 2020 Census. 

This invitation will include a code unique to your address that can be used to respond online. Households can also respond by phone or request a hard copy of the survey. 

Here's what you can expect to receive by mail:

  • March 12-20: Households will receive an invitation in the mail to respond online 
  • March 16-24: This is when households will receive a initial reminder letter.
  • March 26-April 3: A follow up reminder postcard.
  • April 8-16: A reminder letter and paper questionnaire.
  • April 20-27: A final reminder postcard before the US Census begins follows up in person.

Want to learn more and help support our City's effort to get the word out? Sign up to be a community ambassador and partner with us - we need your help to get the word out!

It's Black History Month: Read about the Fight to Preserve African American History

Morgan State

The January 27, 2020 issue of the New Yorker Magazine profiles the work of Brent Leggs, director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

According to this article, of the 95,000 structures on the National Register, only 2 percent focus on the experiences of black Americans. Preservationists like Leggs are working with activists, archeologists, and historians to change this. The piece also notes that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is working with HBCUs, including Morgan State University, to promote preservation and preserve prominent buildings on campus. And Leggs is also working to build an interest in the preservation field among architecture students at Morgan and other Universities.

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund received over 800 applications in its first year, and was able to fund 22 projects.

You can also read a detailed profile of Morgan State University's architecture on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's webpage.

Meet our New Director for Community Revitalization


Cheryl Casciani joins the Department as the Director of Community Planning and Revitalization. Prior to joining the Department of Planning, Cheryl worked for 20 years at the Baltimore Community Foundation. Prior to this role, Cheryl was the Executive Director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association. She currently resides in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood and is involved in numerous civic activities, including the immediate past chair of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and a member of the Creative Alliance board. Cheryl has also chaired Baltimore's Sustainability Commission.

Below, Cheryl answers a few questions about herself and her work.

How does your neighborhood inform your work?

I live in Mt. Vernon, so I experience the benefits of mixed uses in one neighborhood. For example, there is a good mix of residential and retail, but also a good mix of rental and homeownership. The neighborhood is also well served by transit, which is an amenity that all neighborhoods should…but do not…have.

3 spots people should know about in Baltimore? 

  • The Creative Alliance is a place that regularly draws all kinds of people of all ages for an eclectic mix of performance and visual art experiences.
  • I love Fort McHenry and am always surprised about the number of long time Baltimoreans who haven’t been or do not go there very often.
  • Tapas Teatro next to the Charles Theatre is my favorite restaurant. Amazing food and staff.

Capital Improvement Program Updates

CIP graphic

To guide the City in making necessary physical improvements, the City Charter requires the Planning Commission to annually recommend a six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Board of Estimates. A capital improvement is a long-term investment, typically in physical infrastructure, such as roads, monuments, public buildings, parks, or art.  

Each year, the Planning Department works with the various City agencies to prepare and present a new six-year program. The Planning Commission will have a work session to review recommendations on February 20, 2020 at 1pm.  The Commission will vote on recommendations on March 5, 2020.  To see agency requests, click here.  To learn more about the review process, click here.

Please don’t hesitate to email with any questions about the capital budget.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) New Rules Impacts Baltimore

EBT Card

The US Department of Agriculture has issued a Final Rule, altering the eligibility of able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps). This Rule will have large impacts on Baltimore City, affecting roughly 15,000 people, and causing a loss of approximately $24.4-$33.3 million dollars to the local economy each year. Read about the rule in more detail in this article.

On January 24th at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Young was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser of D.C. to present the impacts of this new rule on cities. Baltimore City has joined 14 other jurisdictions in filing an injunction against the USDA, challenging the implementation of this rule.

Read more about the USDA’s attempt to place limitations on SNAP benefits here.


INSPIRE planners joined 21st Century staff at the 21st Century School Buildings Program Public Forum to share an overview of what’s been done to support engagement and activity in the neighborhoods surrounding the modernized schools.

Get Funded! Grant Opportunities

  • Housing Affordability Breakthrough ChallengeEnterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo have created a competitive grant program to spark innovation in three areas of housing affordability:  housing construction, financing and resident services and support. It is a three-stage competitive process, with the first-round RFP released January 16, 2020.
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Chesapeake and Coastal Grant is open.  The deadline is February 14.  These grants is looking for projects that achieve nonpoint source pollution reduction, reducing flood risk, enhancing resiliency to climate change, working with students to increase outdoor learning and stewardship, or foster sustainable development with projects that benefit the boating public.   
  • Chesapeake Bay Trust's Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant is open.  The deadline is March 19 at 4 p.m.  Funding levels vary depending on the project, but the grants can range up to $15,000 for conceptual plans, up to $30,000 for engineering designed projects, up to $50,000 for community greening projects, and up to $100,000 for implementation projects.  
  • Baltimore City's Environmental Control Board's SAY YES! Program is open. Part of their BMORE Beautiful initiative, the SAY YES! program is a seasonal youth engagement grant program. Community based organizations can apply for a grant to engage up to 5 youth in their community on beautification projects. For more information, email

Surplus Schools Seeking Expression of Interest (EOI)


The Department of Housing and Community Development is now seeking an Expression of Interest (“EOI”) from qualified development teams to redevelop 6 surplus school buildings. 

In 2012 Baltimore City Public Schools announced that it would close 26 school facilities over the course of 10 years, approximately 16% of all schools in the City.

The closures are tied to the 21st Century Schools Buildings Plan, an initiative to provide new investment for school facilities throughout the City.

Although vacant land and buildings present significant challenges, they also have the potential to be assets to their communities. These sites provide large-scale opportunities for new land uses that transform neighborhoods, particularly if the new use can catalyze additional development, investment, or interest in the nearby area. 

Equity in Planning: City Updates

Equity Lens

On Martin Luther King Day, the City's Office of Equity & Civil Rights announced the launch of the new Equity Division. This division will be charged with ensuring, citywide, that our policies, programs and budget are fair, and meet the needs of Baltimore City’s diverse communities.

An Equity Guide and Strategic Plan are coming soon.

Within Planning, we aim to prepare and post a progress report to our Equity Action Plan later this Spring to our website, assessing where we've made progress and where more focus is needed.

ICYMI: Planning & Development in the News

Upcoming Commission Meetings & Events.

2/11/20 - Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP)

Since 1964, CHAP has enhanced and promoted the culture and economy of Baltimore through the preservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods. CHAP meets on the second Tuesday of each month.

Meetings are held in the Front Boardroom of the Department of Planning, 8th floor of the Benton Municipal building, 417 East Fayette Street. 

For more information on the upcoming meeting agenda, visit this site.

2/19/20 - Sustainability Commission 

The Commission on Sustainability is a 21-member body, overseeing the implementation of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan.

Meetings are held monthly and open to the public. The location varies, but all meetings are held at 4 PM.

Information about the schedule is available on the Sustainability calendar.

2/20/20  - Planning Commission

The Planning Commission is responsible for maintaining land use plans for the City and reviewing all amendments to the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Commission meets on Thursdays throughout the year.

Meetings are held in the Front Boardroom of the Department of Planning, 8th floor of the Benton Municipal building, 417 East Fayette Street. 

The schedule, agenda and staff reports are available on this website.

2/27/20 - UDAAP

The Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel’s role is to provide the Planning Commission and the Department of Planning design review expertise in the areas of urban design, architecture, and landscape design.

Meetings are held in the Front Boardroom of the Department of Planning, 8th floor of the Benton Municipal building, 417 East Fayette Street. 

Dates, agendas and staff reports can be found here.


city of baltimore

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Chris Ryer, Director