Coordinating Land Use and Economic Development for Infill and Revitalization
When the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) moved more than 18,000 jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground, the City of Aberdeen took action to direct those jobs and associated development to targeted areas. One of those areas was in the City Center -- its business district next to the MARC Commuter Rail and Amtrak station.
Aberdeen’s comprehensive plan emphasizes the city’s vision and commitment for its downtown to accommodate new retail shopping, professional offices, and cafés and restaurants oriented around a multi-modal transportation hub. While other potential locations in the city are ripe for development, city officials OR leaders have taken direct steps to promote increased development and economic activity in the City Center, from adopting new zoning to streamlining the development approval process to tapping into state redevelopment programs. City leaders expect that developing a vibrant City Center will both serve the new BRAC workforce as well as spur more economic development.
In 2010, the Aberdeen station area was officially designated by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for Transit Oriented Development District (TOD). Partnering with many government agencies -- MDOT, including Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and the State Highway Administration (SHA); the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP); Harford County agencies; Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor; Aberdeen Proving Ground; the Army Alliance; Amtrak and CSX railroads – city planners developed a master plan for the Aberdeen TOD District.
Among the recommendations in the 2012 TOD Master Plan: to amend the City Code to encourage infill development and adopting a form-based code for the Aberdeen TOD area.
The master plan recommends that the form-based code for TOD address:
- Pedestrian-friendly design
- Building setback/build to lines
- Parking requirements
- Building height restrictions
- Allow and encourage mixed-use development
- TOD and pedestrian-friendly storm water treatment strategies
- Changes and updates to landscaping, lighting, security features, and signs
The TOD Master Plan also helped establish the Sustainable Community district boundary and Action Plan. Since achieving a Sustainable Community designation in 2012, the City of Aberdeen has successfully utilized the Department of Housing and Community Development Strategic Demolition Fund (SDF) to acquire parcels identified in the Master Plan for redevelopment.
Smart Growth Publications
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities