Sustainable Communities seek to conserve resources; provide green spaces and parks for recreation and agriculture; offer many options for transportation; use natural and cultural resources wisely for future generations and consider the social and economic needs of all residents.
In 2010, the governor signed into law Smart, Green & Growing legislation (House Bill 475, 2010 session, "The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010") passed by the Maryland General Assembly to enhance the future of growth, development and sustainability in Maryland. This law established the "Sustainable Communities" designation in order to strengthen reinvestment and revitalization in Maryland's older communities. The Sustainable Communities law enhanced an existing rehabilitation tax credit into the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program. It also simplified the framework for designated revitalization target areas in the Community Legacy (CL) and Neighborhood BusinessWorks (NBW) programs, establishing a new transportation focus on older communities and enhancing the role of the Smart Growth Subcabinet (SGSC) in the revitalization of communities.
The new law promotes equitable, affordable housing by expanding energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation. Because the law favors transit-oriented development, Maryland citizens are afforded more transportation choices, which will decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
Sustainable Communities Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Designation and Financing Law
The 2013 TIF law, passed by the Maryland General Assembly as House Bill 613 (Sustainable Communities - Designation and Financing) and signed into law by Governor O’Malley, allows municipalities and counties to finance the cost of infrastructure improvements in a designated Sustainable Community using TIF. TIF leverages the increase in property tax value from new development to pay for public improvements. While TIF has been allowed in Maryland for years, the new law expanded TIF to target revitalization in strategic areas.
This legislation was the result of recommendations of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission to enable local governments to to invest in community benefits like expanded sidewalks, street tree plantings, parks, and water and sewer improvements to spur smart growth, economic development and improve quality in their communities.
Municipalities and counties with Sustainable Community areas are granted greater access to financial services through the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO). MEDCO, which provides financial assistance and consulting services to local governments, has a long history of helping jurisdictions set up financial redevelopment packages, many examples of which are highlighted in the user guide.
On December 12, state planning officials and Maryland and Howard County leaders will announce $10 million in state tax credits that will fund historic restoration projects in nine Maryland communities. The tax credit will bring positive change to downtowns from Cumberland to Cambridge, converting an industrial building to a food distribution warehouse and repurposing a furniture store into a restaurant, among other projects.
In December 2013, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown announced $10 million in state tax credits that will fund restoration projects at 10 historic buildings across Maryland. From Federalsburg and Cambridge on the Eastern Shore, to Sykesville and Cumberland in Western Maryland, and five projects in Baltimore, the program will restore old churches, office buildings, and apartments into a variety of new uses.
Governor Martin O'Malley announced the recipients of the latest round of Sustainable Communities Tax Credits, which will help create 500 construction jobs in projects designed to revitalize communities and promote green building practices. Five projects that scored highest in the application process received a total of $6,992,341 in tax credits to leverage construction projects with a total cost of $31,836,476 (In all, 12 applicants had sought a total of $21,961,619 in tax credits for construction projects having a total estimated cost of $116,624,795.
Governor Martin O'Malley announced the recipients of the latest round of Sustainable Communities Tax Credits, which will help create 500 construction jobs in projects designed to revitalize communities and promote green building practices. Six projects that scored highest in the application process received a total of $6,958,000 in tax credits to leverage construction projects with a total cost of $36,516,871.
Ten projects that scored highest in the application process were awarded 2011 Sustainable Communities Tax Credits, which will help create 740 construction jobs in projects that will revitalize communities and promote green building practices around the state. These projects received a total of $11 million in tax credits to help leverage construction projects with a total estimated cost of $82,430,000. The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit and its predecessor, the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit, have invested more than $358 million in Maryland revitalization projects in the past 15 years, supporting 15,000 jobs and revitalizing communities.
MDP is working side-by-side with State agencies, the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development, local government agencies and a variety of stakeholders to coordinate a statewide approach to applying the principles of Sustainable Communities in Maryland. There are:
Provide more transportation choices. Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
Promote equitable, affordable housing. Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
Enhance economic competitiveness. Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
Support existing communities. Target federal funding toward existing communities—through strategies like transit oriented, mixed-use development, and land recycling—to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.
Coordinate and leverage policies and investment. Align policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
Value communities and neighborhoods. Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.