With more people driving back and forth between Anne Arundel and Howard counties, leaders of both jurisdictions are calling for a new era of cooperation in planning roads and managing growth.
However, Baltimore- and Washington-area officials who attended Tuesday's workshop on land use and transportation strategies in Howard and Anne Arundel agreed that the era of regional cooperation has barely dawned.
The workshop, conducted in Columbia and jointly sponsored by the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, marked the first time Howard and Anne Arundel officials have met formally to discuss transportation issues, said James J. Cannelli, assistant director of Anne Arundel's Office of Planning and Zoning.
In the past, both counties have been too busy dealing with internal growth to look beyond their borders, he said.
But with the Baltimore-Washington corridor becoming more developed and the boundaries between the counties more fluid, such parochialism is becoming obsolete, workshop participants said.
"What this is leading up to is an understanding between the two counties," said County Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River. "This is a first step toward cooperation on a more tangible level."
Uri P. Avin, Howard County's director of planning and zoning, noted, "There's no option but to coordinate our options more carefully."
Exactly how to do that, planners and county leaders are not sure.
Currently, no road projects are being discussed between Howard and Anne Arundel counties, Cannelli said. And, though everyone is calling for a regional approach to land use and transportation planning, workshop leaders conceded there is no model for Baltimore- and Washington-area counties to follow.
The report of the state Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region, scheduled to be released to Gov. William Donald Schaefer this fall, is expected to elevate growth management to a new regional plane, planners said Tuesday. The growth commission, a successor to the state 2020 panel that advocated greater state control over local land-use planning, is charged with devising specific recommendations for regional planning.
Ronald F. Kirby, director of transportation planning for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said his organization already is using the regional approach. Its "Outer Counties Project," a transportation study of the metropolitan Washington area, includes two Virginia and four Maryland jurisdictions, including Howard and Anne Arundel.
"Howard and Anne Arundel are as important to the Washington region as Loudon and Prince William counties (in Virginia)," he said. Together, the six counties are expected to account for 50 percent of the growth in metropolitan Washington, he said.
Tuesday's workshop attracted more than 200 county leaders and private developers from across the Baltimore and Washington regions. However, only two or three civic association representatives attended -- a fact some workshop leaders said is a symptom of a major planning problem.
Transportation and growth planning will likely be stymied, they said, unless planners can educate the public on two points: that growth management plans and adequate public facilities laws are designed to manage rather than stop growth, and that successful mass transportation will not occur without more high-density development.