A multitude of documents provide guidance and guidelines for land use planning in Baltimore County. Several of these are available online:
Rural Road Design Standards. In October 2008, the Baltimore County Council adopted the new standards stemmed from a report and recommendations by the Valleys Planning Council and are now part of the Department of Public Works Design Manual.
Engineering consultants hired by the VPC completed the Rural Roads Study in November 2005. The study called for Baltimore County to adopt rural road standards aimed at preserving the rural character of county roads located outside the urban rural demarcation line (URDL). The study echoed recommendations in the county’s Master Plan 2010 which called for the development of rural road standards in several sections. The study pointed to current federal and state transportation guidance documents that encourage the use of “context sensitive” design, especially in scenic or historic areas, to minimize the adverse impacts of expanding road networks on surrounding communities. The study recommendations centered on maintaining existing dimensions of rural county roads and bridges as well as the hills and curves that make them scenic routes for a variety of users.
“Rural roads are a critical part of the conservation equation,” stated VPC President Peter Fenwick. “Baltimore County residents have made a substantial investment in land conservation by surrendering development rights on thousands of acres of land. We would like to protect that investment by maintaining as much rural character as possible. Wider, straighter, faster roads are seen as counterproductive to those efforts and that is why many want to see rural road standards adopted.”
The study was funded by grants from the Abell Foundation and the France-Merrick Foundation as well as other local foundations and private individuals who support the work of the Valleys Planning Council. Copies of the study are available free while supplies last by contacting the VPC office.