Sustainable Communities: Enhancing Maryland Communities by Prioritizing Investment

​​​​​​The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Sustainable Communities Program is a place-based designation offering a comprehensive package of resources that support holistic strategies for community development, revitalization and sustainability. Led by the Department, Sustainable Communities has provided local governments with a framework for promoting environmentally, economically and socially responsible growth and development in existing older communities.

List of Approved Sustainable Communities​​

Sustainable Communities Act of 2010

The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 established a shared geographic designation to promote efficient use of scarce State resources based on local sustainability and revitalization strategies. The Sustainable Communities program consolidated geographically targeted resources for historic preservation, housing and economic development under a single designation. The designation places special emphasis on infrastructure improvements, multimodal transportation and  development that strengthens existing communities. The legislation  designated the Governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet as the body charged with final approval of Sustainable Communities designations.

What are Sustainable Communities?

The 2010 Sustainable Communities Act defines Sustainable Community Areas as places where public and private investments and partnerships achieve:

  • Development of a healthy local economy;
  • Protection and appreciation of historical and cultural resources;
  • A mix of land uses;
  • Affordable and sustainable housing, and employment options;
  • Growth and development practices that protect the environment and conserve air, water and energy resources, encourage walkability and recreational opportunities, and where available, create access to transit.​​​

Sustainable Communities Resources and Benefits

To better support comprehensive strategies for development and revitalization, various state agencies have contributed to the creation of a revitalization toolbox. The toolbox is a reflection of how various agencies are prioritizing investment in Maryland’s Sustainable Communities.

The Sustainable Community designation is a threshold requirement for application to certain state  programs, such as, Community Legacy, and the Strategic Demolition Fund​.​

Sustainable Communities Application

To participate, municipal and county governments must submit an application in which they:

  • Define a geographic area with an existing built environment in need of revitalization or additional state investment to strengthen the local market, and
  • Submit a Sustainable Community Action Plan, a summary of initiatives and projects for the revitalization of the targeted Sustainable Community Area

Applications for Sustainable Communities designation will be reviewed by an interagency panel led by the Maryland Department of housing and Community Development and will then be presented to the Governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet for approval. Once approved, newly designated Sustainable Communities will retain their designation for a period of five years.

Eligible Applicants

​Local Governments (municipal or county)​

Other Requirements

All Sustainable Communities Area applications must meet the following requirements:

  • Sustainable Community boundaries must be entirely within a Priority Funding Area and should be indicative of a targeted approach. To determine if an address falls within a Priority Funding Area, or existing Sustainable Community, see Neighborhood Revitalization Mapper;
  • A local government resolution in support of the boundary designation and Plan must accompany the application;
  • The proposed Sustainable Community should be within or near a town center or transportation center, and have a need for financing assistance for local revitalization initiatives such as support for nonprofit organizations, strengthening older commercial districts and residential communities and improving public amenities. The proposed Plan must be consistent with other existing community or comprehensive plans.​

More Information

CONTACT: Carter Reitman
Program Manager
Sustainable Communities
phone: 410-209-5849

CONTACT: Olivia Ceccarelli-McGonigal
Assistant Director, State Revitalization Programs
Division of Neighborhood Revitalization
phone: 410-209–5826​

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