In 2006, the NCSG partnered with the Urban Land Institute and 1000 Friends of Maryland to lead a coalition of over 100 organizations representing community, business, civic, housing, educational, smart growth and environmental interests. Together, they developed and coordinated a series of regional growth visioning exercises conducted in four regions of the State of Maryland known as Reality Check Plus. Primarily an effort to engage the public in a dialog about future growth in the state, the exercises were attended by a diverse group of nearly 850 political, business, environmental, real estate and civic leaders who allocated future job and household growth across the state.
The exercise encouraged participants to think regionally on how to best address the anticipated growth. After the exercises were complete, the NCSG aggregated the results into a statewide vision for growth and then compared these desired growth patterns with several other future scenarios, including current growth trends and complete buildout based on existing zoning.
The NCSG found that Reality Check participants were more likely to target new growth in existing communities, protect green infrastructure, support development within the state’s two beltways, support development near transit, mix housing for residents of different incomes, and limit the creation of impervious surfaces.
While the Reality Check results have been used by advocacy organizations across the state to promote modifications to the state’s Smart Growth policies, the NCSG’s data analysis on this project fed directly into the more extensive Scenario and Modeling efforts currently being pursued by the NCSG.
This Guidebook provided participants background information necessary to make informed decisions at the Reality Check Plus exercise. It contains detailed information about statewide and regional trends in population, housing, employment, environmental challenges and a range of other issues. Reality Check Plus participants were encouraged to read it prior to the exercise and bring it with them that day.