The Valleys Planning Council (VPC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1962. Its mission is to conserve land and resources, preserve historic character and maintain the rural feel and land uses in the valleys. The organization relies on financial support from members, many of whom have been members since the beginning. VPC is governed by a 41-member board of directors and an 11-member executive committee. It also employs a full-time executive director and executive assistant.
The VPC territory includes 130 square miles (83,200 acres) in northwest Baltimore County. The framework for its approach to strategic and managed growth was established in The Plan for the Valleys, a nationally acclaimed land use study prepared by Wallace and McHarg in the early 1960s. Key tenets of the plan that still guide the organization’s work today include:
- Limit the provision of public water and sewer service
- Develop conservation zoning to protect agricultural land and rural areas
- Limit development on valley floors and steep slopes
- Provide for long-term viability of farming
- Facilitate and promote conservation easements
- Protect forests, streams and aquifers
The VPC maintains an office in the heart of Towson at 118 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, directly across from the old courthouse that now serves as the county executive and county council offices.
The VPC monitors the valleys and is carefully watching over the existing and proposed land uses to ensure that the beautiful landscape and bountiful resources of the area are used in the most wise and efficient manner. You can help by keeping your eyes and ears open and letting us know of activities or proposals in the future that may need to be evaluated or addressed.
What does the Valleys Planning Council do?
The VPC works to maintain the integrity of the land use controls and environmental regulations that are in place, and when necessary, works to improve and enforce them.
A phrase often used to describe the VPC is that it “serves as the eyes and ears of the valleys”. While it is true that the VPC staff, board and members monitor decisions and actions that affect land use in the valleys, the organization also has a broader, more basic function. VPC is a planning organization, and is constantly evaluating the big picture and the integrated uses of the land. The work involves developing strategies to accommodate suitable uses while providing long-term protection for natural resources and agricultural land as well as preservation of rural aesthetics and quality of life factors. There are many decisions and actions taken by government agencies and individuals, that when looked at in isolation may appear innocuous or even beneficial, but when looked at holistically, do not make good sense. Things like widening local roads or bridges or adding an acceleration lane may make sense from the perspective of moving more traffic, but in the context of the rural valleys landscape, such a project is often counterproductive and inconsistent with land use regulations and preservation programs. The VPC is constantly evaluating local policies and decisions in this broader context and working to ensure that the good work that has been done to control growth is not unwittingly undone. Our work program generally includes:
- Preparing targeted studies on land use issues important to the valleys (e.g., the Rural Roads study);
- Participating in specific planning initiatives at various scales (e.g., the plan for the reuse of the Rosewood campus, small watershed action plans, and development of the 10-year county Master Plan);
- Monitoring development and enforcement activities and taking appropriate actions as needed;
- Supporting or opposing specific issues filed for a zoning change during the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP)
- Monitoring county and state legislation and participating as appropriate;
- Keeping the VPC membership informed of opportunities for incentives such as easements and tax credits;
- Serving as a resource for members of the community who have questions or concerns about land use in their community.
The VPC territory is 130 square miles (83,200 acres) in the northwest quadrant of the county. The boundary stretches east and west from Rt. 30 to I-83, and stretches north to south from the Beltway to the Prettyboy Reservoir.
Conserving open space; protecting Baltimore County’s agricultural, natural, historic and scenic resources; and working to promote a balanced and rational use of the land for the benefit of present and future generations.
The VPC is a membership organization and takes in annual dues to supplement its operating budget. While the geographic scope of the VPC’s work is limited to Baltimore County, studies and legal precedents often have a county-wide (or wider) impact. The VPC has been at the forefront of land use planning and preservation for six decades.
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