How the Department of Planning Supports Military and Community Compatible Use

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) promotes growth that fosters vibrant, livable communities, preserves and protects the environment, and makes efficient use of state resources. Planning works closely with counties and municipalities to envision and guide where and how future development, revitalization, and preservation will occur.

Planning is one of the five state agencies that are statutory members of the Maryland Military Installation Council (MMIC), and was identified with responsibilities for implementing and supporting many of the 2019 Statewide Joint Land Use Response Implementation Strategy recommendations that support civilian-military compatibility.

In addition, Planning is one of seven state agencies that take part in the review of Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) applications for permitting approval of utility-scale renewable energy projects (along with the Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Energy Administration, Department of the Environment, Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce). Planning is also a part of the Federal Offshore Siting Process for Renewable Energy projects. Compatible permitting and siting of renewable energy projects are key to maintaining and protecting the military mission and operational areas in the state.

Compatibility Factors relevant to the Department of Planning: Land Use, Cultural Resources, Light and Glare, Safety Zones, Land/Air/Sea Spaces, Vertical Obstructions

Relevant Programs and Plans​

Maryland Historic Trust (MHT)


The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) is a Planning division and serves as Maryland's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). MHT's main office is in Crownsville, but also oversees operations at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard. As the SHPO, MHT oversees Section 106 reviews in Maryland, in consultation with other agencies, jurisdictions, developers, and communities. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966​ requires agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. As federal installations, Maryland's bases and forts are subject to Section 106 reviews, thus requiring them to consider the impacts of their actions (such as demolition or modification of structures) on historic resources within the fence line or those outside the fence line potentially impacted by a project originating within the base.

To meet its mission to preserve and interpret the legacy of Maryland's past, MHT offers tax credits, grants, and loans for acquisition, rehabilitation, research, and interpretation projects supporting the state's historical resources. Maryland's military installations are indelibly linked to its past, and often contain structures and a unique legacy that MHT may be able to support with its programs and resources. Preserving and telling the story of the military in Maryland is an area of potential collaboration between communities and installations.

MHT also plays a leading role in historical research and surveying in Maryland, developing statewide preservation and heritage resiliency plans that provide “guidance for effective decision making about historic property preservation throughout the state.” MHT also provides direct local government and community assistance through the Certified Local Government program, which recognizes counties and municipalities that have made a commitment to preservation activities in their community. An example of one of these activities would be the establishment of a qualified historic preservation commission to designate and review historical properties.


Comprehensive Planning


The State Code of Maryland delegates planning and zoning authority, including comprehensive planning, to Maryland's jurisdictions. Planning takes the lead coordination role for state agencies review of draft comprehensive plans and provides direct technical assistance to jurisdictions in the comprehensive planning process. Planning's Comprehensive Plans webpage contains helpful guidance on plan requirements, the adoption process, and citizen participation. Planning is also the depository of all adopted comprehensive and master plans in Maryland, and oversees and updates the 10-year review cycle. Jurisdictions considering civilian-military compatible use in their next comprehensive plan update, or amendment, should consider referencing Planning's resources and contacting the department to discuss how and where the topic, including best practices and data, can be incorporated.

Planning is involved in local government comprehensive planning from initiation to adoption. Upon request, the department's Regional Planners are available to assist localities in comprehensive plan funding access, vendor Requests for Proposal development, existing plan review and analysis, data compilation, community outreach, and draft plan review and feedback. Planning can also serve as the liaison between military installations, communities, and other state agencies that may support comprehensive plan development. Regional Planners serve as project managers for the state's 60-day review process for comprehensive plans. At least 60 days prior to the local Planning Commission's public hearing, non-charter counties and municipalities must send a draft comprehensive plan, or amendment, to Planning for coordinated review and comment. Regional Planners distribute the draft to Planning's other divisions, as well as other state agencies involved in the review process. By day 60, Planning transmits a compiled review to the jurisdiction, which must be included in the public record for the local Planning Commission's public hearing. Throughout the comprehensive plan development process, Planning staff works with jurisdictions to ensure that the compatibility needs of Maryland's military installations are considered.

Planning has also developed many resources to help jurisdictions with their comprehensive planning needs; most recently a Water Resources Element Guidance, a Transportation Element Checklist, and Housing Element Models & Guidelines. Please visit Planning's Digital Library for the full list of comprehensive planning publications.

Priority Funding Areas (PFA)


In partnership with Maryland's funding and regulatory agencies, Planning oversees Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) and the review of local PFA designations. Maryland established PFAs to ensure the state's growth-related spending (e.g., roads, water, and sewer infrastructure) goes to areas and communities locally designated as growth areas, thus ensuring a more efficient use of state funding and limiting growth induced by the extension of infrastructure into areas better suited for land preservation and limited growth.

The state initiated PFAs in 1997. The designation of a jurisdiction's PFA is und​er the sole discretion of the local government. The state cannot designate an area as a PFA nor remove an existing PFA designation, but jurisdictions seeking to expand their existing PFAs must submit a PFA certification request to Planning. If the locally designated growth area meets PFA criteria, including having the proper zoning and water and sewer plan designations, Planning will concur with the local designation and certify it as a PFA. However, if an area does not meet one or more of the criteria under the PFA Law, Planning will place a "comment" on the area, indicating it as a PFA Comment Area on its interactive map. For purposes of state agencies' administration of limited state funding resources subject to the PFA Law, PFA Comment Areas are often considered non-PFA areas, which limits their access to certain growth-related funding programs. Visit Planning's Local Government Planning Frequently Asked Questions on PFAs to learn more. Jurisdictions and military installations should consider PFAs in their compatible planning efforts. In many instances, areas in which an installation would like to avoid encroaching local land uses (such as dense residential development) should not be designated as PFAs. However, if land uses, infrastructure, and amenities supportive of an installation's mission would benefit from state funding, then jurisdictions should consider designating areas in which they are desired as a PFA.

Jurisdictions and military installations should consider PFAs in their compatible planning efforts. In many instances, areas where an installation would like to avoid actions that may result in encroachment (such as dense residential development) should not be designated PFA, as PFAs indicate where a community wishes growth to occur. However, if land uses, infrastructure, and amenities supportive of an installation'​s mission would benefit from state funding, then jurisdictions should consider designating areas in which they are desired as PFA.

State Data Center


Planning is home to the Maryland State Data Center (MSDC). In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the MSDC compiles, monitors, and analyzes population, demographic, building permit, housing, and economic data for the state and its jurisdictions, including population projections for Maryland's counties. The MSDC is the best place for Maryland planners and stakeholders to quickly access Census and American Community Survey data for the state. Military installations and jurisdictions should access the MSDC's resources when considering growth trends and population characteristics in areas of mutual planning interest. Upon request, the MSDC can also contribute targeted data and analysis to aid a jurisdiction's specific planning needs.


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