College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

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.

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 the Effect of Downzoning on Spatial Residential Development Patterns in Baltimore County: A Pioneer in Smart Growth.” David Newburn, presentation to the National Center for Smart Growth, September 2014.

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.

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