In December, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed an executive order to implement PlanMaryland, a long-range, land-use plan intended to better coordinate the state’s smart growth efforts and programs. Under the plan, state agencies will work with each other and local governments to preserve open space, reduce sprawl and coordinate other aspects of development.

The governor has emphasized that PlanMaryland is not supposed to usurp local planning and zoning authority. However, local governments that don’t cooperate with the  plan’s objective could risk a reduction in state funding. The plan aims to preserve at least 300,000 acres of farmland and forest over the next 25 years and reduce infrastructure costs. The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) held three rounds of public meetings in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and sought the input of the Smart Growth Cabinet, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, state agencies and local planning officials.

“We need PlanMaryland because the rate of land conversion for development has grown at triple the rate of population since 1970,” said Secretary Richard Eberhart Hall of the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP). “Without a smarter approach, we’ll face billions of dollars in additional cost for more road and school construction and we’ll undercut the enormous public and private efforts and investment already being made or planned to clean our bays, rivers and streams.” O’Malley called PlanMaryland the state’s “first, long-range, sustainable growth plan.”

According to a Washington Post article, Republicans, farmers and some local governments have strongly opposed the plan, while others have criticized O’Malley for not allowing the General Assembly to hold hearings or vote on it. The associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties expressed concern about the plan’s ability to consolidate power in a subcabinet of state officials.

To download the entire plan and learn more about it, visit Plan.Maryland.gov.

Watch O'Malley discuss the plan in the video below.