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Keyword: department of planning

$200,000 in Funding to Leverage Grants for New Bike Trails and Bike Lanes

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler announced a plan to jump-start the development of new bike trails and bike lanes linking neighborhoods, parks and schools around the County. This funding initiative supports a county-wide master planning process for improving bicycle and pedestrian access and safety intended to add to the livability and sustainability of Baltimore County communities.

“People want to live in communities where they have easy access to bike trails and bike lanes so they can safely pedal to work and school and can enjoy a weekend bike ride with family and friends,” Mohler said. “Our BaltCoBike 2030 initiative is a planning and grant-making process that will prioritize funding for recreational off-road bike trails and bike lanes that will be strategically located to help provide more transportation options for residents in the County and surrounding jurisdictions.”

The initiative will allocate $200,000 in County funding that would supply matching funds as required by state, federal and private grant programs including, but not limited to, the Maryland Bikeways Program; the federal Recreational Trails Program; and the Transportation Alternatives Program. The program could leverage as much as $1 million in funding for County projects. The initial funds will be identified in the existing budget in the Department of Public Works. Beginning in FY20, we are hopeful that there will be a line item in the County’s budget to support this program. “I am pleased that for the first time we will actually identify funding to expand biking opportunities in Baltimore County,” said Mohler.

 “Creating environments that support biking and walkability is increasingly important to maintaining the County’s attractiveness and quality of life for our residents,” said Planning Director Andrea Van Arsdale. “Promoting walking and bicycling also helps to address the national obesity problem, supports environmental sustainability and helps to strengthen people’s sense of connection to their neighbors and communities.”

“Dedicated public funding is key to delivering bike and pedestrian projects that our residents can enjoy,” said Public Works Director Steve Walsh.

“This is a very positive initiative because I know that community leaders around the County are interested in having more bike trails and bike lanes as desirable amenities that offer great opportunities to ride for fun and for getting around,” said County Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr.

“This is a very generous and proactive step by the County that will be put to good use in providing safe accommodations for people to walk and bike, providing   multiple benefits including recreation, fitness and easing traffic congestion,” said Sheldon Epstein, the Chair of the County’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. “We are seeing national trends where walking and riding a bike are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to driving for short trips.”


Youth Reach Maryland is Part of Statewide Effort to Reduce Homelessness

Baltimore County is seeking to contact and survey young people under age 25 who are struggling with homelessness or unstable housing. For the next two weeks, County Department of Planning staff and their non-profit partners will be taking extra steps to locate youth with unstable housing situations in order to estimate the number of people who make up this vulnerable population and gain a deeper knowledge of the challenges they face.  

The County is participating in a statewide effort, known as Youth Reach Maryland, to contact and survey young people who are homeless or struggling with serious housing issues. This effort has engaged regional partners and seeks to strengthen knowledge of and services to youth under age 25 who are not living with a parent or guardian and face an unstable housing situation that may be viewed as homelessness.   

The County's effort to contact this constituency begins Monday, March 12, and continues through Sunday, March 25. The County Department of Planning and the non-profits Prologue, Inc. and Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless (BCCH) are leading the county effort, working closely with service providers and institutions, including soup kitchens, homeless shelters, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The County and its partners have assembled a network of people, including youth ambassadors, who will visit key locations, reach out and, hopefully, survey the select youth population over the two-week period.

Advocates for the homeless believe that independent youth and young adults under age 25 who are struggling with housing are often a hidden population that goes uncounted. Youth Reach Maryland seeks to improve the count and deepen knowledge of a unique, challenging constituency. 

Maryland's effort to improve outreach to homeless youth began in 2013, when the legislature made it a priority to improve the frequency and accuracy of counting the state's unaccompanied homeless youth. It established the Task Force to Study Housing and Supportive Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, which recommended a Youth and Young Adult Count of Unaccompanied Homeless. This later became the initiative known as Youth REACH (Reach out, Engage, Assist, & Count to end Homelessness) MD. The state effort is now led by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Those interested in learning more about Baltimore County's Youth Reach effort are encouraged to contact Terri Kingeter at tkingeter@baltimorecountymd.gov or visit the following web links:


County is Nationally Recognized for Effective Growth Management Zoning

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz highlighted the County’s 50 years of success in preserving rural and agricultural lands by directing growth to areas inside the Urban Rural Demarcation Line (URDL), which has held up virtually intact since it was established by the Planning Board in 1967. The URDL, one of the first of its kind in the nation, channels new development in a way that concentrates commercial and residential growth into the existing built environment to protect open space, water quality, agricultural land, scenic views and the natural environment.

“By preserving the integrity of the URDL over the past five decades, we have enhanced the quality of life for everyone in Baltimore County, rather than allowing unchecked suburban sprawl to overtake our rural areas while leaving older communities behind,” Kamenetz said. “We know that preserving forests and rural land is one of the most effective ways to protect our waterways and the drinking water supplies for 1.8 million people in our region.”

A History of Thoughtful Planning and Environmental Preservation

Baltimore County has long been recognized nationally and internationally for its comprehensive land use planning, zoning and preservation programs that preserve open space by guiding development into designated areas within the URDL, resulting in a minimum of costly suburban sprawl and the preservation of environmentally and economically valuable farmland and rural open space.

The URDL benefits existing communities by investing County resources in a cost-effective manner and guiding capital investment into the urban parts of the County and siting costly public amenities like schools, roads, public water and sewer mostly inside the URDL.

In 1965, just prior to the establishment of the URDL, the Valleys Planning Council developed the Plan for the Valleys. That was a precursor to the County’s first Comprehensive Plan in 1975, which identified growth areas in Windlass (now better known as the greater White Marsh area), Mays Chapel, Liberty and Owings Mills. Also in 1975, the County created rural land conservation zoning, designed to protect agriculture and watersheds while allowing some limited growth in rural areas.

“The best outcomes come from collaboration like what took place at the time of the Plan for the Valleys, and we’re still reaping the benefits of that really high-quality planning back when most of the state and country were not thinking about long-range land use planning,” said Teresa Moore, Valleys Planning Council Executive Director.

The URDL set the stage for stabilizing the County’s rural lands and there has been only minimal change to the original demarcation line, even with the open Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) every four years. 90 percent of Baltimore County’s population still lives inside the URDL, and two-thirds of its land remains rural. Agriculture is still the largest business land use and Baltimore County is the leading equine county in the state of Maryland. 

“The County Council is ultimately responsible for land use decisions, and my colleagues and I take very seriously our responsibility to be stewards of the land, balancing the need for homes and businesses with critical environmental protections,” said County Council Chair Tom Quirk.

Baltimore County’s first Maryland Environmental Trust land preservation was purchased in 1974, and today, the County is ranked in the top ten jurisdictions nationally in agricultural land preservation with preserved lands and parkland forming a green network that stretches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Piedmont border with Pennsylvania. 


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017