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State designates Essex as Maryland Sustainable Community

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Maryland Sustainable CommunitiesEssex is now qualified to apply for State funding for projects leading to increased economic, transportation and housing choices, and environmental improvements.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has awarded Essex the designation of Maryland Sustainable Community, based on an application submitted in April by the Baltimore County Department of Planning, the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force, and the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased that the State has recognized the tremendous potential in the Essex community and the Eastern Boulevard business corridor,” said Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler. “The County’s Department of Planning has worked with each community to help identify unique opportunities for enhancing the health, housing, small business climate, and quality of life in these areas.”

Working in collaboration with the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force and the Chesapeake Gateway Chamber of Commerce, the Baltimore County Department of Planning identified Essex as an area in need of revitalization and developed a comprehensive strategy to encourage and guide local investment. The newly designated Sustainable Community now will refine these strategies and submit applications to the State requesting funding for specific projects.

“I want to thank the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force, a Chamber committee, for the outstanding work they already have done to organize, plan and implement improvements to this area,” said Chesapeake Gateway Chamber President Jaime Alvarez. “The Task Force consists of outstanding business people who live and work in this community and are committed to making a difference.”

Cliff O’Connell of Cliff’s Hi-Tech Body Shop commented about how well Baltimore County’s Department of Planning and the Maryland DHCD worked together and with the Task Force to maneuver through the application process. Sam Weaver of Weaver’s Marine Service added, “We want to thank the professionals in both departments for their guidance and help. This designation will make a big difference as we work toward revitalizing the Essex business district.” O’Connell and Weaver serve as Co-Chairmen of the Eastern Baltimore County Task Force.

The Maryland Sustainable Community program focuses on partnerships to support revitalization and reinvestment in older communities. The Sustainable Community designation, which lasts five years, opens eligibility for state programs and resources, such as Neighborhood BusinessWorks, Community Legacy, and the Strategic Demolition Fund.

“This is excellent news and now is an ideal time to focus on the Essex area and provide revitalization efforts that will benefit the area as a whole,” said 7th District Councilman Todd Crandell.

“Essex is perfectly positioned for strategic reinvestment that will help maximize the area’s wonderful amenities like prime water access, great communities and wonderful schools and parks,” said 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins.

The Essex Sustainable Community Area includes approximately 4,233 acres, including a mix of residential communities and the Eastern Boulevard Commercial Corridor extending from the Back River Bridge to just over the Middle River Bridge abutting the Lockheed Martin property. The boundaries of the area were determined using the 2010 Census Tracts combined with various County overlays including the Essex Commercial Revitalization District and the Essex Design Review Panel area.

These areas have been specifically targeted for revitalization efforts. Recently there have been major investments on the east side of the County including Tradepoint Atlantic and Baltimore Crossroads. These projects, although still under construction, are adding major investment, infrastructure and jobs to the area. The Essex Sustainable Community area lies between both of these key projects.

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