County Executive Robert R. Neall plans to appoint a business development commission, taking his first step toward fulfilling an inauguration promise to build a recession-proof economy.
The group will prepare a long-term development strategy for Anne Arundel, as business leaders recommended Thursday during a conference on the county's economic climate.
The permanent commission will help promote economic growth without the haphazard patterns of development that threaten the county's environment and suburban lifestyle, Neall's spokeswoman, Louise Hayman,said yesterday.
"Everyone has consistently agreed what the problem is -- but the solution is not clear," she said.
Kathryn Dahl, a zoning attorney and president of the Anne Arundel Trade Council, agreed. "The business community, the citizens and the institutions seem to not have clearly in mind what they want to see happen in the county," she said yesterday
"People enjoy the benefits of growth. But when they move here, they complain that it deteriorates the quality of life."
Dahl led a seminar on growth as part of the five-hour business conference sponsored by the council, the county Office of Economic Development and Anne Arundel Community College.
The conference followed a survey released last month that indicated county businessesare worried economic vitality could be threatened this decade by dwindling skilled labor, shortages in housing, worsening traffic congestion and overtaxed infrastructure.
"Somehow, there hasn't been somebody looking at the big picture," Dahl said. "The affordable housing committee looks at one thing. The Spending Affordability Committee looks at another. But nobody has ever looked at the big picture and come up with solutions that are not adversarial."
As part of the solution, the commission will guide development with specific goals for growth, Hayman said.
Another area to be addressed by the commissionis reforming business regulations to end overlapping and contradictory rules that inhibit development planning, said Florence Beck Kurdle, who heads Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s real estate subsidiary.
"The regulations are becoming every year more complex," she said yesterday. "They're adopted for a specific problem, and they aren't seen in the context of the whole."
The entire body of land-use regulations must be reviewed, said Kurdle, a former director of the county's Office of Planning and Zoning.
Another issue sure to be on the commission's agenda is limiting development in the county. During hiscampaign, Neall promised to do so by reducing zoning density by 10 percent countywide.
The question did not come up last week, Dahl said.