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Armory Marketplace Could Benefit from PlanMaryland

The development plan was discussed at the Bel Air Armory just days after it was revealed.

The $1 million Armory Marketplace project may not be so far off after all.

In the draft revealed by the state’s Sustainable Growth Commission in late April, the is classified as a “Priority Funding Area.”

Inside the downtown Armory on Monday, the Maryland Department of Planning held the commission’s first meeting since the plan was released.

For photos from the event, click here.

“[The plan] is really trying to return to a more traditional pattern of development, which over the long run would be less wasteful fiscally and also environmentally,” said Andrew Ratner, the department’s director of communications and education. “It is in a lot of ways a plan for the next generation.”

Town Director of Planning said although Bel Air is mostly built out, projects like the Armory Marketplace could get more financial support if Gov. Martin O’Malley approves the plan in October. The seven-figure project is centered on "business incubators" in garages behind the historic building.

“That’s what we’re hoping, and lots of projects just like the project,” Small said. “I think the idea is the funds [you] spend, you want to benefit the most number of people.”

The state planning department's secretary called PlanMaryland the first of its kind.

“The state plan will let us see how the local governments and the state’s goals and objectives come together on the ground,” Richard Hall said. “Maryland’s never ever had one document, one game plan, one playbook that tries to put it all together. … It will help us see, ‘Well, what our strengths and weaknesses are in smart growth.”

Local engineer Craig Ward said he is concerned about how well the public will interpret the document.

“This plan is written for the experts,” said Ward, president of Main Street’s Frederick Ward Associates. “[The public doesn’t] know these details. … Include a few case studies as part of the written document.”

Small said he hopes the plan is approved.

“If they’re going to target their funds,” he said, “then that would benefit the Town of Bel Air.”

Seeking public input on PlanMaryland, the commission will hold “open houses” throughout the summer, including June 8 from 5–8 p.m. at Chesapeake Center.

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