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Sustainable Communities

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) Sustainable Communities Program is a place-based designation offering a comprehensive package of resources that support holistic strategies for community development, revitalization and sustainability.

Current Applications

The Department is currently not pursuing any Sustainable Community Applications.

Approved Sustainable Communities in Baltimore County


To view the interactive map with sustainable community boundaries, visit the Maryland DHCD Mapper.

To view a detailed map of each sustainable community, visit our PDF Map Library.


To participate, municipal and county governments must submit an application in which they:

  • Define a geographic area with an existing built environment in need of revitalization or additional state investment to strengthen the local market.
  • Submit a Sustainable Community Action Plan, which is a summary of initiatives and projects for the revitalization of the targeted Sustainable Community Area.

The 2010 Sustainable Communities Act defines Sustainable Community Areas as places where public and private investments and partnerships achieve:

  • Development of a healthy local economy
  • Protection and appreciation of historical and cultural resources
  • A mix of land uses
  • Affordable and sustainable housing, and employment options
  • Growth and development practices that protect the environment and conserve air, water and energy resources, and encourage walkability and recreational opportunities
  • Creation of access to transit where available

To better support comprehensive strategies for development and revitalization, various state agencies have contributed to the creation of a revitalization toolbox. The toolbox is a reflection of how various agencies are prioritizing investment in Maryland’s Sustainable Communities.

The Sustainable Community designation is a threshold requirement for application to certain state programs, such as the Community Legacy and the Strategic Demolition Fund. Applications for Sustainable Communities designation will be reviewed by an interagency panel led by the Maryland DHCD and will then be presented to the Governor’s Smart Growth Sub-cabinet for approval. Once approved, newly designated Sustainable Communities will retain their designation for a period of five years.


The goals of developing and renewing a Sustainable Community designation are:

  • Involve the community in developing a long-term vision for that area
  • Define policies and actions that will guide how the area should be maintained or changed in the future
  • Identify future land uses in an overall community-wide context
  • Recommend future infrastructure improvements
  • Provide design guidance
  • Provide implementation guidance for private and public investments and strategies that should be pursued to realize the vision for the area

Some recommendations in the Sustainable Community Area Plan may take the form of:

  • Land use amendments
  • Zoning amendments
  • Plans for open space
  • Future transportation studies and projects
  • Capital projects
  • Renderings and sketches depicting urban design guidelines for the area
  • Items requiring further study

Major Topics 

Per the State’s requirements, the study will explore the following topics:


Environmental accomplishments and objectives may include improvement of quality of land, water, air or watersheds, increased tree canopy, mitigation or adaptation to issues related to sea level rise, reduction of carbon footprint, improved energy conservation, access to local foods, green infrastructure, stormwater infrastructure or management, construction of parks, trails and other recreation facilities, recycling, improved water and sewer capacity, etc.


Economic accomplishments and objectives may include increased regional accessibility, business attraction or retention, improved health of the business district and decreased commercial vacancies, improved accessibility to employment opportunities and economic drivers, adopted local policies or regulations that encourage economic growth, enhanced marketing and tourism, improvements to cultural and historic assets, etc.


Transportation accomplishments and objectives may include increased access to transit corridors, improved pedestrian safety and increased accessibility or sidewalks, alternative modes of transportation, such as bikeways and trails, public transit, such as bus and rail, carpooling, improved parking and road conditions, etc.


Housing accomplishments and objectives may include an increase in affordable, workforce or market rate housing, either for homeownership or rental, improved housing conditions and values, increase in housing programs, reduction in foreclosures and residential vacancies, increase in property values and home sale values, etc.

Quality of Life

Quality of life accomplishments and objectives may include crime, socioeconomic demographics, educational opportunities, museums, libraries, historic and cultural assets, civic amenities, faith-based organizations, economic health of households, sense of place, etc.

Land Use and Local Planning

Land use accomplishments and objectives may include changes to zoning, improved land use policies, increase or decrease in taxes and fees, etc.

Staff Contact

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Amy Trexler Mantay
Deputy Director
Phone: 410-887-3480

Revised October 22, 2021         


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