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Maryland Coast Smart Council Holds First Meeting

Beach water rising under a pier. Photo by Ellen Christianson

Photo by Ellen Christianson

The Maryland Coast Smart Council met yesterday in Annapolis ─ the first of a series of meetings to take place over the next year ─ to develop new construction standards for State agency buildings in areas vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding.

“As our seas rise and our weather changes, it is critical that we do everything within our power today to ensure the future health and safety of Maryland and its citizens,” said Governor O’Malley. “The newly established Coast Smart Council will ensure we are at the front of this very real, very serious issue, gathering data and developing plans for a more ready and resilient Maryland.”

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Joseph P. Gill will chair the Council, comprised of agenda heads from the State departments of Budget and Management, Environment, General Services, Transportation, Business and Economic Development; the Maryland Emergency Management Agency; the Critical Area Commission; and the University System of Maryland.

Additionally, Governor O’Malley appointed five members to represent local government, environmental and business interests: The Honorable Dennis Dare, Ocean City Councilman; Chris Elcock, GWWO, Inc., and Architects; Dr. Gerald Galloway, Jr., the University of Maryland College Park; Sepehr Baharlou, BayLand Consultants and Designers, Inc.; and Thomas J. Lawton, Somerset County.

The Council was created in response to the House Bill 615 enacted during the 2014 legislative session to ensure the State makes safe and fiscally-wise capital investments in the future.The process to develop the criteria will build off the work of the Climate Change and Coast Smart Construction Working Group, including recommendations contained in the 2014 report, Climate Change and CoastSmart Construction Infrastructure Siting and Design Guidelines.

Governor O’Malley is currently serving as a member of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, charged with advising the President on how federal agencies can best help states and communities understand, prepare for, and reduce the impacts of climate change.

For more information on the Council or to receive notice of future meetings, contact Zoë Johnson, DNR program manager for Climate Policy and Planning at or 410-260-8741. For more on Maryland’s climate change planning activities, visit