Baltimore City Department of Planning e-News - August 2020

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Baltimore City Department of Planning eNewsletter  - August 2020

A Message from Chris Ryer, Director


This summer, we have lost a number of incredible leaders in Baltimore - the Department of Planning is mourning the losses of Sustainability Commissioner Avis Ransom; Park Heights community leader George E. Mitchell and longtime member of the City's Design Panel, John Hill. 

The nation also suffered the great loss of Mr. John Lewis this summer. Mr. Lewis is a model in the fight for racial justice and human rights. As his NYTimes obituary notes, he pushed for optimism and hope, even when faced with great struggle.

As we look ahead to the fall, our team will continues to grapple with questions of racial equity (How can we build pathways into the urban planning profession for Baltimore youth? How can we build a Planning staff that reflects Baltimore? What would it look like to apply an equity lens to our staff reports and the work of our Planning Commission?). As we tackle these questions and more, we look to the examples of our local leaders like Ms. Ransom and Mr. Mitchell to inspire our answers.

Chris Ryer, Director

Census 2020: Neighborhood Canvassing Begins

Neighborhood canvassing is underway in Baltimore, and door knockers from the U.S. Census are on their way -- both these efforts are aiming to boost census participation among historically undercounted groups.

Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and public health concerns, the Census Bureau had announced plans to delay sending out door knockers into communities until August. August is now here, and the door knockers will be working in neighborhoods that are undercounted. A good way to prevent a door knocker from coming to you is by filling out your form online or by telephone. Go to or call into 844-330-2020 to respond on behalf of your household. #BMORECounts

On 7/25, the Department of Planning, working with local elected officials, launched a neighborhood canvassing effort to get the word out in undercounted communities. The effort began in the Druid Heights neighborhood: ten elected officials volunteered to support this work and canvassed with the team. In total, 40 volunteers supported the effort, knocking on every door in the neighborhood (1800 in total!). The next neighborhood canvassing efforts will be in Millhill and Carrollton Ridge.

In addition to canvassing, the Department of Planning is also working with trusted community leaders to record voice messages to remind neighbors about the Census. 


CIP Meeting Scheduled for August 11

Join us for a Public Information & Listening Session on the CIP!

Learn more about Baltimore City's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and Capital Budget through this online event on Tuesday, August 11 at 6 PM.

Planning staff and Planning Commissioners will attend to hear public comments.

Register via this link.

Easy instructions for using Webex are available here


Avis Ransom, Sustainability Commission Leader, Passes in 2020


Avis Ransom, a member of the Sustainability Commission since 2014, passed away in July from cancer. Avis, an engineer by training and a founder of Baltimore Racial Justice Action (BRJA). Avis brought her broad range of skills to the work of the Commission. Through her mentorship and leadership she moved the Commission along the path towards putting racial equity at the center of its work.

In addition, Avis served on the boards of the Job Opportunities Task Force, the Baltimore Algebra Project, and Baltimore Workforce Investment Board. She was a member of the Coordinating Committee for the Baltimore Black Worker Center and an Open Society Institute Community Fellow.

Mia Blom, acting co-chair of the Commission, said “She was a fierce woman who fought for equity and justice at every turn.”

“She was a giant. I benefited enormously from her example and her advice. She is leaving a hole on the Commission and in Baltimore – and a wonderful legacy through her work,” said Miriam Avins, co-chair of the Commission.

Cheryl Casciani, the former chair of the Commission, noted, “Avis was a friend, mentor and leader to so many in Baltimore. She will be missed, and now it is time for all of us to step up and use all that we learned from Avis.”

Mayoral Fellow Joins Data Analysis Team

As we reported in July, the Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship provides a 10-week full-time placement with a Baltimore City agency.

Five students and recent graduates joined the Department of Planning as Mayoral Fellows this summer. This month, we are highlighting one more of the Mayoral Fellows who has joined our team.

Next month, we will report back on some of their work.

Mercy Iyere is the Real Estate Dashboard Fellow working for the Policy and Data Analysis team. Mercy is working to develop a real estate dashboard to provide data and information in one convenient place.

Mercy is beginning her second year in the Masters’ of City and Regional Planning program at Rutgers University. She is originally from Atlanta, GA.


C-2 Entertainment Overlay District Proposal & Additional Zoning Meeting Scheduled


The Department of Planning is discussing a proposed change to Title 12: Special Purpose Districts of the zoning code.

The addition would be a C-2 Entertainment Overlay District that would allow, under certain conditions, live entertainment as a stand-alone use. Currently, in the C-2 zoning category, live entertainment can be utilized as an accessory use, but not on its own. 

A public meeting was held on July 29, and the presentation can be viewed, downloaded and commented on via this link.

To submit feedback on the C-2 Overlay via email, please contact Reni Lawal at

Save the date for a virtual meeting on two zoning bills, scheduled for August 18th:

Since these two bills are changes to the Zoning Code that would apply Citywide, the Department of Planning will host a virtual meeting on August 18 at 5 PM, prior to a formal public hearing.

You may join the virtual meeting on August 18 via this link.

Call in information:

United States Toll +1-408-418-9388 Access code: 129 023 7941

Baltimore Green Network Earns Grants to Support Park and Greening Efforts


Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund has awarded a grant of $200,000 to the Baltimore Department of Planning’s Baltimore Green Network towards the impervious surface removal at Druid Heights Cab Calloway Legends Park, 2216 Druid Hill Avenue.   

Druid Heights Cab Calloway Legends Park is one of the pilot projects of the Baltimore Green Network, adopted by the Baltimore City Department of Planning in 2018.    

The design was created by the residents of the Druid Heights neighborhood over a series of four charettes with the landscape architecture firm, Design Collective.  In June, the Baltimore Green Network also received a $27,768 grant for stormwater engineering at Druid Heights Cab Calloway Legends Square from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

For more information about these projects, contact Kimberley M. Knox, Greening Coordinator for the Baltimore Green Network at

Longtime City Design Advisor, Dean of UMD Architecture School John W. Hill Passes


On July 7, Mr. John W. Hill passed due to complications from a recent fall. He was 90.

Hill had been the founding Dean of University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and a member of the faculty until his retirement in 2006. Additionally, Mr. Hill was a long time member of the city’s Design Advisory Panel (DAP), a predecessor to Planning’s current UDAAP. 

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, DAP panel members advised the housing commissioner of DHCD on the design of public projects across the city, outside of downtown.

He was known for consensus-building among his colleagues and students. According to former Design Panel coordinator Robert Quilter, Mr. Hill "was one of the most dedicated members of the Panel, demonstrating the best interests of the city and good urban design policies as his guiding principles."

George E. Mitchell, community leader remembered as a ‘champion for Park Heights,' Passes

George Mitchell2

In July, Park Heights community leader and advocate George Mitchell passed away; he was 65 years of age. Mr. Mitchell was a champion for the Park Heights community and Baltimore broadly. He worked every day to improve the quality of life for his neighbors.

Born in South Carolina, Mr. Mitchell was raised in Baltimore and graduated from Morgan State University in 1976. 

Mr. Mitchell was the founder of the Langston Hughes Community Business Resource Center, which opened in 2017. Since then, the organization grew to offer a broad range of services including childcare, mental health resources, a computer lab, business incubator and programming for senior citizens. George always nourished those in need, he prioritized providing food and fresh produce for the community, and hosted major food pantries at the Langston Hughes Resource Center and Edgecombe Circle Elementary School. 

According to community leader Cherring Spence, "many deemed George, the King of Park Heights. He fed thousands, gave gifts to thousands of children at Christmas, fought for our community and could work you to the bones, if you let him. He was committed to the motto: "Our Community, Our Responsibility."

Upcoming Commission Meetings & Events.

8/11/20 - 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. 

Information and an agenda for the August meeting is available here.

8/27/20 - UDAAP *note re-scheduled date*

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.

The agenda for the August meeting will be made available here.

8/19/20 - 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 August meeting can be accessed via WebEx via this link.

8/20/20  - 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.

Agenda and WebEx information is available via this link.

If you are unable to participate, you may submit written testimony to

city of baltimore

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Chris Ryer, Director