Maryland APA

The Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association

Welcome to the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association's Website. Our mission is to make great communities happen in Maryland by offering continuing professional development and other valuable services to our members that will enable them to excel in their practice. We advocate for excellence in planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing our members with the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change. We hold a biennial conference, produce a regular newsletter, and offer regular educational and networking opportunities to our members across the state.


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35th Annual Maryland Planning Commissioners Association Conference

  • Holiday Inn, Gaithersburg 2 Montgomery Village Drive Gaithersburg, MD 20879 (map)

"Citizen and Professional Planners: A Vital Partnership"

The MPCA Conference offers Planning Commissioners, Board of Appeals members and anyone interested in citizen planning an opportunity to learn, share experiences and exchange ideas.

The 35th annual conference topics will include (but not limited to) Citizen and Professional Planner Collaboration, Cultivating New Commissioners, A Better Maryland State Development Plan, Ethics, and the Open Meetings Act.

*We have been approved for 1.5 CM Credits for the the 2:30 pm (Oct. 26) session titled Citizen Planners, Professional Planners, and Board Members: A Vital Partnership. This training has been developed in partnership with the Maryland APA. The class is open and free to anyone who would like to join at that date and time, but the full conference has a registration fee*

Conference Overview

Preliminary Agenda (subject to change)

Thursday, October 25

Registration Opens
8 a.m. in the Hotel Lobby

Planning Commissioner and Board of Appeals Training
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The first day of the conference includes the Planning Commissioner Training Course* that satisfies the requirements of the law. This course is a must for new commissioners and board members. The training is free and is beneficial for experienced commissioners as well as those interested in learning more about citizen planning. Anyone wishing to take the free training only and not attend the conference are welcome to register. The class will begin at 10 a.m.
*The training is free but registration is required:
Register for the training course at this link

Open Meetings Act Training
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Presented by the Academy of Excellence.

Panel Discussion: Thirty Years of New Urbanism
1:50 to 2:00 p.m.

Tours of Kentlands, The Crown and the RIO Washingtonian Center
A tour of these three examples of thoughtful mixed-use planning in Gaithersburg will begin at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday Evening Reception and Dinner
6 p.m.
Start the conference at the Reception and Dinner. This is included in the fee for attendees.

Friday, October 26

The specifics of the Friday conference program will be announced but we expect that the following session topics will be covered. As is the tradition of the MPCA conference, it promises a full day of back-to-back sessions packed with useful information on timely topics including:

  • A Better Maryland: The new state development plan

    1. Nuts and Bolts for Planning Commissioners

    2. Planning Commissioner ethics

    3. Cultivating new commissioners

    4. Resources for Reinvestment and Revitalization

    5. Citizen and Professional Planners: A Vital Partnership:
      Session Summary: 

      • Professional planners, and the boards and commissions with which they work, form the front line of good, sustainable planning in Maryland's communities. Often however, this collaboration can be inconsistent and even counterproductive. This session will provide participants with best practices, tools, techniques, and processes for maximizing the working relationship of citizen and professional planners, along with board members, in the local planning context. The session will emphasize how these vital planning groups can best support each other and collaborate to achieve proper efficiency, transparency, and public responsiveness.

Attendees will learn/understand:

- How a planning or other local government department can best recruit and cultivate new Planning Commissioners.

- Best practices, procedures and systems for effective citizen and professional planner communication, training, and professional development.

- Effective citizen and professional planner collaboration on large scale planning efforts, including comprehensive planning and significant development projects.

- Best practices for collaborative interpretation of planning policies and regulations.

- How to apply these lessons to a scenario in which citizen and professional planners must work together to address a planning issue.

- Sources for further information on the topic and continued professional development, including the Planning Commissioners Journal, Maryland and other state level Planning Commissioners training courses, Planners Web, the Municipal Research and Services Center, and others.   

Preliminary Agenda (subject to change) 

See you at the conference! 

Click here to find out more about conference pricing, registration, and policies.