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Master Planning History

Baltimore County began launching growth management policies in the 1960s. The master plans and their landmark programs are essential to maintaining the sustainable development for economic well-being, public health and safety, education, and resource preservation throughout County communities, and have made the County nationally and internationally renowned.

Urban-Rural Demarcation Line

In 1967, the Planning Board approved to establish the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line (URDL), maximizing the efficiency of County revenues on infrastructure in urban areas and preserving important natural and agricultural resources in rural areas.

The 1975 Plan

The 1975 Plan (PDF) introduces the design approach to the new area development, encouraging the maximum densities that the market will support and promoting the highest possible degree of pedestrian and bicycle circulation. The long-term urban growth is anticipated only in the areas of Windlass, Mays Chapel, Liberty and Owings Mills. The adequate public facilities legislation would determine the timing of development in these areas.

The 1980 Plan

The 1980 Plan (PDF) advises that the most intensive residential and commercial development take place in sector town centers where access is or will be optimized by such facilities as ring roads and rapid transit stations. The plan also suggests that the County increase the industrial inventory in the Southeast and Western sectors to take advantage of their locations within the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

The 1984 Plan for Owings Mills

The 1984 Plan for Owings Mills (PDF) encourages developers to cooperate with the County in locating and staging projects through integrated controls and incentives. Residential development in the moderate to high density is concentrated around the town center and transportation facilities. The town center itself provides intensive, mixed-use commercial and office development. The plan recommends the strong office and industrial development market and adequate infrastructure necessary to create jobs. View the 1984 Owings Mills Land Use Plan map (PDF).

The 1990 Plan

The 1990 Plan recommends county goals for town centers and new development areas, including Owings Mills and White Marsh, promoting quality commercial, office and high-density residential development within town centers.

The 2000 Plan

The 2000 Plan (PDF) accentuates on maintaining flexibility to respond to opportunities and problems as they arise. The Plan created land management areas for urban and rural portions of the county. The intent is to achieve a balanced development in designated growth and community conservation areas and preserve agricultural activities and natural resources outside the URDL.  

The 2010 Plan

The 2010 Plan (PDF) carries on principles of previous plans and integrates land use issues with social and economic factors. The plan endorses planning policies that are consistent with Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) and the Rural Legacy Program mandated by the 1997 Maryland Smart Growth legislation and its principles.

The 2020 Plan

The 2020 Plan envisions a sustainable development in the County and calls for compact, walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented development along commercial corridors or at underutilized properties. The Plan designates the Middle River Redevelopment Area in eastern Baltimore County because of emerging development activities and future opportunities for prosperity.

While implementing the Master Plan 2020, Baltimore County adopts new plans or maps as amendments to the plan to help strengthen the County’s growth management policy. The amendments to the Master Plan 2020 are:

Staff Contact:
Amy Mantay, Master Plan Coordinator

Revised May 28, 2021         


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