The Compass - Sustainable Communities Dept. of Planning's eNews

Compass Logo with View from Druid Hill Park
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

May, 2012

A Message from the Director…
Maryland’s Sustainable Communities program acknowledges that healthy, vibrant places are made up of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.  The City of Baltimore is pleased to release its targeted strategy to leverage resources from this newly re-tooled State program, and advance our community development goals. 
The Department of Planning has teamed up with Baltimore Housing and other key community development stakeholders to craft Baltimore’s application for the Maryland Sustainable Communities Program.  Prior to submission, we invite your input on Baltimore’s draft Sustainable Community action plan, including the proposed boundary, strategies and individual action plan components. 
This issue of the Compass provides an overview of the City’s draft proposal.  To view detailed descriptions of each strategy, the action plan and the accompanying maps, please go to our website, and give us your feedback.
Active and engaged citizens are an essential ingredient of any community development and sustainability effort.  If we are to achieve the Mayor’s goal of adding 10,000 new households, we need you to participate, because it will take a collective effort to make Baltimore the most livable and sustainable City it can be for current, and future generations.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director


Image of BNEC Brochure

Baltimore Featured on PBS

The Baltimore Neighborhood Energy Challenge (BNEC), a program of the Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation,  launched in 2009. Since then, hundreds of residents across the City have been trained as “Energy Captains”, and have taken a public pledge to reduce their energy usage. BNEC has gained national attention and was recently featured on the PBS special Energy Quest USA.
“ENERGY QUEST USA visits five very different American communities, from Alaska to the East Coast, and Portland to Fort Worth, where citizens are making smart energy choices based on economics and the environment. Their experiences chart a path every U.S. community can follow to take charge of their energy future and adapt to the challenges climate change may bring.”
To view the entire episode online, click here.
To view the segment on Baltimore, click here.
To view a segment highlighting one of our local Energy Captains, click here.
To sign up for the Energy Challenge and to receive your free kit click here, or call 410-927-6088 or email us
Image of Montgomery Park, former brownfield

Help a Student, Help Baltimore: Brownfields Survey

Hello! My name is Kyle Stauffer. I’m a graduate student in Landscape Architecture at Penn State University. For the past 2 years I have been studying brownfields (sites of potential environmental concern).
 As part of my research project I have developed a survey featuring several alternative solutions to three sites throughout Baltimore.
I would love to get citizen feedback on my ideas!
If you could spare about 15 minutes please go to the link below and fill out the survey. I will enter anyone who completes the survey into a drawing to WIN A $100 VISA GIFT CARD! 
Click here to take the survey and give your feedback.  Your response will really mean a lot to me.

Planning for Sustainable Communities


As part of its commitment to smart growth, the State of Maryland adopted the Sustainable Communities Act of 2010.  This legislation combines a variety of state programs, such as Community Legacy and Designated Neighborhoods, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Communities (SC) program. The Act also mandates coordination of State grant, loan, and tax credit investment tools in a targeted way to help revitalize Maryland’s older communities.  
For municipalities like Baltimore, this program means added support for strengthening redevelopment initiatives, stimulating the local economy, and creating job opportunities in the Region to help reduce the City’s unemployment rate.  Under the Sustainable Communities program, the Department of Planning is coordinating Baltimore’s application to the MD Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for designation, by strategically identifying geographic areas as Sustainable Communities. 
DHCD has been very clear that each jurisdiction’s application must be focused on specific communities, that meet criteria laid out in the program guidelines and that correspond to local priorities and strategies.  Areas within the designated and approved Sustainable Communities boundary will benefit from priority access to certain state funding and incentive programs.    
Based on the requirements of the program, some areas are automatically included in the SC area, including: Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Zones and State designated Transit Oriented Developments (TODs). It is up to each municipality to designate other areas for inclusion in its Sustainable Community area.
Main Street Storefront Image
Designation Process
As part of the application process, the Department of Planning formed a work group to guide the development of the Action Plan and its implementation.
The work group, which includes members representing City Agencies, nonprofit organizations, and foundations, has met regularly over the past few months to develop the Sustainable Communities’ vision and strategies to achieve it. 
The group also identified programs, policies and initiatives that can be implemented as part of the SC Action Plan. 
Baltimore’s designated SC area is based upon the Action Plan, the areas baseline conditions (e.g., physical assets, coordination of investment, economic conditions), and the needs and potential for these areas to respond to the strategies outlined below.  The Action Plan is intended to serve as a framework for investment and coordination of public, private and non-profit investments that seek to revitalize the SC areas.   
The City’s overall Sustainable Communities goals are to:
  • Enhance the City’s economic competitiveness, inclusiveness and workforce development;
  • Build upon existing strengths, assets and amenities;
  • Support transportation efficiency and access;
  • Promote access to affordable housing; and
  • Leverage and coordinate policies and investments.
To achieve these goals, the Baltimore SC work group identified six targeted strategies:
  1. Support Main Streets and commercial areas by targeting investments in Middle Market Neighborhoods.
  2. Target investments in Healthy Neighborhood areas.
  3. Target investments along major transit routes.
  4. Target investments in arts and entertainment districts.
  5. Invest in areas surrounding anchor institutions and major redevelopment areas.
  6. Facilitate investments in emerging markets near areas of strength.
 The map below shows the proposed Sustainable Communities area for Baltimore City (Click to view larger map):
Map of Proposed Sustainable Communities Area

Public Comments Wanted

Baltimore City’s Sustainable Communities action plan will be available for a two-week public comment period from May 14 - 28, 2012. Please use this link to review and provide comments.
Feedback received during the public comment period will be reviewed and considered for incorporation into the final Application.  The City of Baltimore plans to submit its Sustainable Community proposal by the Round 3 DHCD deadline of July 2, 2012. 
Upon approval, Baltimore Housing will take the lead in administering the Sustainable Communities program, with participation from the established work group.