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General Development Plan

 2021 Maryland Sustainable Growth Award

Plan2040 received the 2021 Maryland Sustainable Growth Award for Sustainable Communities from the Maryland Department of Planning. This award is the highest level of recognition for sustainable community planning from the State. 

Maryland Sustainable Growth Award


The Big Picture

Plan2040 is the General Development Plan for Anne Arundel County. It sets the policy framework to protect the natural environment, shape development of the built environment, provide public services to promote healthy communities, and support a diverse, resilient economy. This framework also serves to overcome the many problems we continue to experience due to our history of slavery and federally financed segregated living patterns. Plan2040 provides a shared, long-range framework for County elected officials, staff, and community members for addressing land use issues. It balances many competing demands on land use by creating consistent development patterns. Plan2040 was developed through dozens of public forums and is informed by thousands of comments from the community. There are many common concerns throughout the County, including traffic congestion, school capacity, environmental protection, and housing affordability. These issues are complex and broad; addressing them requires the efforts of over 20 County departments, along with State and Federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Plan2040 includes goals, policies, and strategies to address these issues and manage development and redevelopment.

Plan2040’s policies work together to shape a future for Anne Arundel County that is Green, Smart, and Equitable.

Green Smart Equitable Graphic


Development Policy Area Map


For a brief overview of Plan2040, please see the Plan2040 storymap


Final Approved Plan

(Adopted May 3, 2021; Approved and Enacted May 13, 2021; Effective June 27, 2021) 

Web-based Maps 

  • Making it a Reality

    Implementation of Plan2040 is based on the foundation of growth management in Anne Arundel County. The policies and implementing strategies refer to the County Code, including the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, Functional Master Plans, Region Plans, and Town Center Master Plans, Capital Improvement Programs and management systems. Plan2040 commits the County to accountability through establishing an implementation committee and reporting on implementation of Plan2040.   



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  • The Role of the GDP

    Plan2040 establishes a vision, goals, policies and strategies to guide development of Anne Arundel County over the next twenty years. It reflects the voices of thousands of residents and addresses their priorities for the future of the County. The plan builds on the foundation of the previous General Development Plans and Small Area Plans. It values, promotes, and protects what makes Anne Arundel County “the best place for all,” including the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers, forests, farms, quiet suburban neighborhoods, rural landscapes, and thriving economic centers.

    Plan2040 lays out a policy framework that informs many of the County’s future decisions on land use, environmental protection, transportation, open space, agriculture, community facilities, historic preservation, housing, economic development, and quality of life. Plan2040 will be implemented through Region Plans, functional plans, design manuals, regulations, the capital budget, and the work programs of County departments.

    Plan2040 is based on a vision and five themes (see "A Vision for the Future" below) that are integrated into a comprehensive set of goals and policies. The plan is based on an integrated approach to sustainable development that considers the interaction of the environment, economy, and social equity. To emphasize those connections, the plan is organized in four chapters:

    • Natural Environment
    • Built Environment
    • Healthy Communities
    • Healthy Economy
  • A Vision for the Future
    This vision for the future of the County was developed by a Citizen Advisory Committee inspired by the ideas provided by community members through a series of listening and visioning workshops in 2018 and 2019.

    A Vision for the Future Graphic
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  • Equity in Plan2040
    Public policy, including policy related to land use, housing, public infrastructure, and public services, has contributed to inequality across the Country and in Anne Arundel County. For example, maps in Plan2040 illustrate the overlapping patterns of people of color and poverty as well as access to recreation and parks in Anne Arundel County. As discussed in Plan2040, similar patterns emerge in relation to the major topics of Plan2040, the Natural Environment, the Built Environment, Healthy Communities, and Healthy Economy.
    Concerns of social and racial equity are addressed throughout the goals, policies, and strategies of Plan2040. Following the recommendations of the Planning for Equity Policy Guide prepared by the American Planning Association (APA), Anne Arundel County has tried to consider equity in all policies. The APA guide defines equity as “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.” Unlike equality, which connotes sameness, equity recognizes difference. Equitable policies actively mitigate the disproportionate harm faced by certain communities. In an equitable society, a person’s access to basic resources such as education, employment, housing, clean air, clean water, and recreation and parks is not strongly linked to a person’s race, ethnicity, or economic class.
    A consistent theme in goals, policies, and strategies in Plan2040 is to be inclusive of all our residents, to prioritize investment in historically underserved and under-resourced communities, and to remove barriers that limit people’s opportunities based on who they are or where they live in the County. The proposed goals, policies, and strategies by themselves will not resolve all the inequities in the County, but they help establish a commitment to pursuing social and racial equity.
    Equality Equity Graphic
  • Implementation and Measuring our Success
    The Goals and Policies of Plan2040 will be achieved through coordinated Implementation Strategies that will be completed by multiple departments of the County. The table at the end of Volume I lists the Implementation Strategies supporting their respective Goals and Policies. The table identifies the lead departments responsible for implementation along with key supporting departments. The implementation table also lists performance measures that will be tracked on a regular basis. Accountability will be provided through an annual monitoring report, a four-year performance measurement report and an implementation action committee.
    The Implementation Advisory Committee first met in Fall 2022. Click here to see more information on the Implementation Advisory Committee.