Smart Growth and Residential Development

The State of Maryland has been a national leader in establishing smart growth policies to reduce urban sprawl and conserve farmland, forests, and open space for local citizens. The innovative efforts have included policies such as Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act (FCA), priority funding areas (PFAs) in the 1997 Smart Growth Act, Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act (septic law), adequate public facility ordinances (APFOs), minimum lot size zoning, and other land-use policies. Despite these efforts, large-lot development in exurban areas continues to be the primary cause for conversion of farm and forest lands. In fact, Maryland has lost almost half of its farmland in the last 50 years, dropping to 2.2. million from 4 million acres. Extension and research faculty at the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics are analyzing the effectiveness of these policies to inform government agencies and local citizen groups regarding how these policies can be improved.

Farmland and Forest Conservation: Evaluating Successes and Failures for Smart Growth in Maryland and the United States.” David Newburn, Lori Lynch and Haoluan Wang. Presentation at the Maryland Land Conservation Conference, June 2022.

Farmland and Forest Conservation” Video presentation at the Smart Growth @ 25 Webinar Series, July 25. Professor Newburn's portion of the presentation is from time mark 20:12 to 32:46.

Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act and the Impact on Residential Development and Forest Cover Change in Rural Baltimore County.” David A. Newburn. AREC Research Brief, 2017.

Downzoning for the Preservation of Agricultural and Forest Lands.” David A. Newburn. AREC Research Brief, 2017.

Conservation Land-Use Policy Toolkit.” Rebecca Lewis, David Newburn, Kelsey Zlevor, and Gerrit Knaap. Chesapeake Bay Trust and National Center for Smart Growth, June 2017, pp. 103.

Modeling Residential Development in the Baltimore Metro Region.” David Newburn and Jeffrey Ferris, presentation to the Maryland Department of Planning, October 2013. 

Development Capacity and the Impact of the Septic Law in the Baltimore Metro Region.” David Newburn, presentation to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council Reservoir Technical Group, May 2013.