Seeking an unprecedented level of public input in how the Baltimore region will develop, area planners and elected officials announced yesterday a series of 17 community meetings to shape a plan they hope will guide transportation and land-use decisions for decades to come.
Although the plan, called Vision 2030, was commissioned by the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, it is designed to take a broad look at economic development, environmental preservation, social equity and public policy.
For the past year, elected officials, community and business leaders, activists and others have taken stock of the region's assets - affordable housing, cultural institutions, central location - and its weaknesses - concentrated poverty, poor public transportation, crime and drugs - as well as its potential for growth.
At the meetings, organizers will offer the public a menu of choices.
Using 3-D computer graphics, the planners will give participants virtual fly-bys through imaginary developments of different types - suburbs, mixed-use developments and redeveloped neighborhoods - so they can think about what they would like to see built in the next 30 years. Then, the planners will provide transportation choices and show how they would affect development in the region.
After that, participants will fill out detailed questionnaires and work in small brainstorming sessions. After organizers gather the input from the 17 meetings, they plan to conduct a random telephone survey to determine whether the groups' conclusions reflect general public sentiment. The plan is scheduled for completion in January.
County executives from Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties and the city's transportation director attended a kickoff meeting yesterday to emphasize their hope that local governments will continue to work together to reach the goals in the report. They said they hope that a plan born of so much community input will hold more sway over the federal, state and local officials who would have to implement it. No Carroll officials attended.
"The last thing we want to do is throw this on the shelf and forget about it," said James N. Robey, Howard County executive.
A schedule of the meetings is available on the Baltimore Metropolitan Council's Web site, www.baltometro.org, or by calling 410-732-0500, Ext. 1041.