Maryland has been out in front of the push toward smart growth for years. Beginning in the early 1990s, and continuing up through the recently approved PlanMaryland, the state has developed a series of thoughtful incentives designed to reduce sprawl and increase density.
The approach favors collaboration over regulation between state and local authorities: smart growth is encouraged by the incentives rather than coerced by new laws.
Good as that program's been, it might not be enough. A new study of the Washington, D.C., metro area, set for publication in Urban Studies, found that Maryland counties often spurn the state's smart growth incentives, instead pursuing their own preferred type of development. Despite the contentious nature of legal planning mandates, in many cases they would be more effective.