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urban planning, land use, development, public transportation, Baltimore, Maryland legal history


This paper explores the limited public accountability of local quasi-public development corporations in negotiating and implementing public redevelopment projects by examining the history of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC). For most of its two-decade existence the BDC has strenuously resisted all public inquiry and oversight, a tradition inherited from its predecessors that originated as private business-led entities performing tasks under contract with Baltimore City (City). Like other similar quasi-public local development corporations, the BDC justified its need for secrecy as necessary to ensure the BDC’s effectiveness and efficiency in negotiating with private businesses on redevelopment projects. This assertion that a business-like model with limited transparency or public oversight was critical to achieve successful redevelopment projects dates back to the Progressive Era’s good government reform movements, which ironically also pushed for government transparency and accountability. Springing from these Progressive roots, quasi-public entities modeled on private businesses and insulated from direct political control became the primary entities responsible for urban redevelopment in parallel with the growth of professional city planning, another offspring of Progressivism.


Land Use Law | Law | Legal History