Maryland Department of Planning

Maryland Department of Planning
Maryland Department of Planning(MDP)
Agency overview
Formed 1959
Jurisdiction Maryland
Headquarters 301 W. Preston St. Suite 1101 Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Agency executives Richard Eberhart Hall, AICP, Secretary of Planning
Matthew J. Power, Deputy Secretary
Parent agency State of Maryland Executive Department

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) is a cabinet level agency in the government of the State of Maryland. The department is part of the Executive branch of the government and answers to the Governor of Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Planning works with State and local government agencies to ensure comprehensive and integrated planning for the best use of Maryland's land and other resources. To local governments, the Department provides technical expertise, such as surveys, land use studies, and urban renewal plans. Also, the Department compiles data on the State for use in planning, including congressional redistricting. Implementing State planning and smart growth policies also is the responsibility of the Department of Planning.

MDP is part of the Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's Smart, Green & Growing initiative, which brings State resources together to restore the Chesapeake Bay, preserve land, revitalize communities, create green jobs, improve public transit, conserve energy and address climate change.



The Maryland Department of Planning began in 1933 as the State Planning Commission (Chapter 39, Acts of Special Session of 1933). When the State Planning Department formed in 1959, the Commission became part of the new department (Chapter 543, Acts of 1959). In 1969, the Department reorganized as the Maryland Department of State Planning (Chapter 155, Acts of 1969). The Department was restructured in 1989 to become the Maryland Office of Planning (Chapter 540, Acts of 1989).

Effective July 1, 2000, the Maryland Office of Planning was renamed the Maryland Department of Planning (Chapter 209, Acts of 2000; Code State Finance & Procurement Article, secs. 5–101 through 5-816) and became a cabinet level agency. The Department is the principal staff agency for land use planning matters concerned with the resources and development of the State.

In July 2005, the Division of Historical and Cultural Programs(DHCP) transferred to the Department of Planning from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The transfer of DHCP to MDP added the Maryland Historical Trust (Maryland's State Historic Preservation Office, or SHPO), the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum and the Banneker-Douglass Museum (preserving Maryland's African American heritage). The Banneker-Douglass Museum was transferred to the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives in 2007.

In 2007, the Department organized to oversee three main functions: Communications and Intergovernmental Affairs; Planning Services; and Historical and Cultural Programs. (See Historical Evolution)


The history of State land use planning in Maryland goes back further than most states in the U.S. Although Maryland is 42nd among the 50 states in size (9,843.62 sq. miles)[1], it is 19th in population (5,633,597)[2] and ranks fifth in population density (580 per sq. mile)[3].

As a result, the pressure to use Maryland’s land for a wide range of uses has been intense and ongoing – as has concern for the impact and location of those uses. The issues of uncontrolled growth, premature rural subdivision, loss of productive soils, strip growth, loss of forest land, loss of Bay fisheries, loss of public Bay access, the need to plan for infrastructure and other capital improvements and the need to acquire forest land and set goals for agricultural land preservation have been troubling state planning officials since the late 1930s! This according to the report of the State Planning Commission, entitled Five Years of State Planning, published in 1938.[4]


1930s & 1940s: State Planning Begins

1933: The Maryland General Assembly creates the first state planning commission in the country to coordinate Depression-era public works programs of the National Resources Planning Board and the Works Projects Administration.
During its first ten years, the Commission developed one of the first Capital Improvements Programs in the country, a mapping system covering the state, and a program to provide medical care for the indigent.
1938: The commission publishes Five Years of State Planning, outlining the State’s vision for Maryland in 1950
1940: The Commission establishes a committee on medical care and devotes much of its energy to public health concerns until the early 1960s.
1948: The Baltimore Metropolitan District Planning and Coordinating Committee is established based on the Commission’s recommendations.

1950s: An Agency Established

1956: The Commission on State Programs, Organization and Finance issues Improving State Planning in Maryland, which emphasizes the need to aid local jurisdictions, establish long range goals, strengthen centralized coordination of planning in the executive branch, and increase the areas of expertise and size of the state planning staff.
1959: Newly passed legislation creates the State Planning Department, broadening its areas of concern to include the state’s water resources and the protection, development, and maintenance of Assateague Island.
This new state planning legislation provides the first mention of a State Development Plan by name.

1960s: An Agency Evolves

1961: The Maryland Historical Trust is established, the first such state agency in the U.S. The Trust evolves into Maryland’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in 1966.
1965: The Department completes the first mass transit study of the Baltimore metropolitan area.
1968: The Commission and others complete an inventory of tidal and inland wetlands; comprehensive regulation of these lands occurs in 1970.
1969: The State Planning Department becomes a cabinet-level agency and is renamed the Maryland Department of State Planning.
1969: The State Intergovernmental Assistance Clearinghouse is created to coordinate the review of projects and avoid conflicts
1969: The General Assembly creates Program Open Space funded by a dedicated stream of revenue from the State’s real estate transfer tax.

1970s: Growth of Local and State Planning

1970: The Tidal Wetlands Act requires a State permit for the alteration of tidal wetland and requires mitigation of any wetland loss.
1971: The state begins paying for public school construction and modernization. The Department provides projections of school enrollment to support this effort.
1974: The Land Use Act of 1974 authorizes the Secretary of the Department to designate areas of critical state concern and allows the Department to express the State’s viewpoint in local land use decisions.
1976: Maryland enacts a state income tax incentive for the rehabilitation of historic properties.
1977: The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation is created, leading to the preservation of almost 270,000 acres through 2008.

1980s: Addressing Land Use & the Environment

1981: The Department designates 57 areas of unique character (wetlands and rail services designated areas) for preservation, conservation, and utilization.
1984: The Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Act is the first time State and local governments jointly address the impacts of land development on habitat and aquatic resources in the Bay. The act designates all lands within 1,000 feet of tidal waters or adjacent tidal wetlands as critical areas.
1984: MDSP publishes the landmark report, Maryland’s Future … The Next Fifty Years, documenting the proceedings of the Futures Conference held on October 27, 1983 in Baltimore, MD.
1985: State legislation creates a process for historic preservation review of state projects, permits, licenses, and financial assistance
1987: The Chesapeake Bay Agreement starts an interstate effort to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
1988: The Department becomes the Maryland Office of Planning.
1989: The Non-Tidal Wetlands Act requires a state permit for alterations of non-tidal wetlands.

1990s: The Smart Growth Era Begins

1992: The Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act establishes “seven visions” (later eight) to be incorporated into local plans. The visions address where development should occur, lands and resources to be protected, streamlining of regulations to achieve the plans goals, and adequate public facilities, infrastructure, and funding to achieve the Visions.
1997: The Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Acts establishes Priority Funding Areas (growth areas where state funds would be targeted), the Rural Legacy preservation program, incentives to clean-up brownfields, Live Near Your Work incentives, and Job Creation Tax Credits.

2000s: Today and Looking Forward

2000: The Maryland Office of Planning is renamed the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP).
2000: MDP and the Department of Housing and Community Development create “Smart Codes” to facilitate the preservation of historic structures, encourage infill in traditional neighborhoods and allow the creation of mixed use, high density neighborhoods.
2001: The GreenPrint Program is created, preserving over 22,000 acres of the Maryland’s most valuable ecological land.
2006: HB 1141 requires counties and municipalities to adopt a Water Resources Element and municipalities to adopt a Municipal Growth Element in their comprehensive plans by October 1, 2009
2006: HB 2 requires counties seeking certification of their farmland preservation programs to designate Priority Preservation Areas (PPA) and include a PPA element in their comprehensive plans.
2007: HB 773 creates the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development.
2009: Three significant planning bills are signed into law as part of the Smart, Green & Growing legislative package: The Smart and Sustainable Growth Act of 2009; The Smart Growth Indicators; and Planning Visions. This package strengthened local government comprehensive plans; directed local jurisdictions and the State to collect smart growth measures and establish a statewide land use goal; and updated the planning process to include 12 new planning visions.

Agency heads

1933 Dr. Abel Wolman, First Chairman of the Maryland State Planning Commission
1942: I. Alvin Pasarew, Director, Maryland State Planning Commission
1959: James J. O'Donnell, Secretary, Maryland State Planning Department
1969: Vladimir A. Wahbe, Secretary, Maryland Department of State Planning
1979: Constance Lieder, Secretary, Maryland Department of State Planning
1989: Ronald Kreitner, Director, Maryland Office of Planning
2000: Harriet Tregoning, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning
2001: Roy Kienitz, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning
2003: Audrey A. Scott, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning
2007: Richard Eberhart Hall, AICP, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning


Maryland Manual On-Line: A Guide to Maryland Government, Copyright September 18, 2009 Maryland State Archives (; See Maryland Department of Planning

"Maryland's Future... the NextFifty Years", Proceedings of the Futures Conference Held in Baltimore on October 27, 1983 Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Maryland State Planning Commission, Sponsored by the Maryland State Planning Commission and the Department of State Planning, Publication No. 84-4, December 1984


  1. ^ MARYLAND AT A GLANCE; Maryland Manual On-Line, Copyright July 16, 2004 Maryland State Archives
  2. ^ United States – States, GCT-T1-R. Population Estimates (geographies ranked by estimate), Data Set: 2008 Population Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau,
  3. ^ Population Estimates; Population Density for States and Puerto Rico: 2008, U.S. Census Bureau, December 22, 2008
  4. ^ Five Years of State Planning, Maryland State Planning Commission, December 1938

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