Wednesday, October 28, 2009

O'Malley: State Agencies Should Prioritize Transit-Oriented Development

Governor Martin O'Malley has just issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to consider proximity to transit stations as a criterion in planning their office space. In Maryland, land-use planning is a function of county governments and local agencies like M-NCPPC, so the state's ability to influence development is limited. But the Governor's action is an important way to promote transit use because state agencies can serve as anchors for bigger projects. We reprint his press release and a copy of his order below.


State agencies directed to consider the proximity of transit as a key factor when determining placement of State office space and laboratories

ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 27, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the issuance of an Executive Order designed to focus future development around the state’s transit facilities. The order directs state agencies to formally evaluate the potential of locating state office space and laboratories in developments adjacent to transit stations when seeking space in the future. The order outlines specific criteria that must be considered as part of the selection process.

“Transit Oriented Development is a critical component of our Smart, Green and Growing initiative aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, sprawl development and traffic congestion, while fostering economic growth,” said Governor O’Malley. “State government must lead by example. When building or leasing space for offices in the future, we will be prioritizing sites that are within walking distance of transit stations.”

Under the Executive Order, it is now a policy of the state to locate state office or laboratory space within a half-mile radius of transit stations at a TOD whenever appropriate and feasible. The order also directs the Department of General Services and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to include a transit evaluation factor in all requests for proposal to lease or purchase office or lab space. The Executive Order does include exceptions if it is determined that locating state office space or labs near transit is not appropriate.

Transit Oriented Development creates compact, walkable neighborhoods around transit stations. TOD increases transit ridership by creating destinations within a short walk of stations. It also offers residents a convenient commute to jobs, shopping and entertainment in the region. MDOT is currently focused on six TOD projects located in Baltimore City, Owings Mills, Savage, Odenton, Laurel and Wheaton. MDOT is also working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to promote TOD at its stations.

Governor O’Malley’s Executive Order is the latest step taken by the state to make TOD a reality in Maryland. During the 2009 legislative session, the General Assembly granted local governments greater authority to use tax increment financing and special taxing districts at TODs to enable the financing of critical infrastructure for TOD projects. In 2008, the legislature declared TOD as a formal “transportation purpose.” The measure removes legal road blocks to TOD, giving MDOT greater flexibility to use its capital budget and property to support TOD projects.

A copy of Governor O’Malley’s Executive Order is attached. Additional information on the O’Malley-Brown administration’s TOD initiative can be found at the following link: