Planners Ask For Cooperation

County Office Tries To Marry Community Needs With Developers'

May 22, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Comfort vs. design, space vs. access and self-expression vs. community values.

The county Office of Planning and Zoning is hoping to make those phrases the centerpiece of efforts to end "piece-meal" development and get people involved in designing their communities.

"We're going to challenge you," said office Director Owen White. "It is something the county hasn't done. We have a lot on paper, but very little implementation."

The aim is to get developers and residents working together so the new buildings that go up will match theaesthetic quality of what already exists.

The planners made theirpitch Tuesday night at the annual general meeting of the Crofton Civic Association. But much of their audience remained skeptical, sayingthe county too often has broken promises and sided with developers.

Residents agreed to give the county 60 days to draw up a proposal for the Crofton area, which already includes plans for 2,000 new homes in five developments.

Bruce Galloway, a private consultant hiredby the county to oversee the design of the Parole and Odenton town centers, said the county could incorporate all the developments into an interlocking community that would reflect the values and aesthetic quality of Crofton.

"Look at Crofton, you have it all," he said. "Help us work with areas surrounding Crofton to make sure the elementsyou have are acknowledged. You've got trees in the median (of Crofton Parkway). That's amazing. Traffic engineers don't like trees in themedian. Somebody might run into them."

The concept, called "small-area planning," would include committees of residents, developers and planners that would help create designs that reflect a community image.

They could address everything from building styles to road layouts to what materials are used in building the roofs, he said.

While county officials emphasized they can't change zoning, they said they can work with developers and residents in assuring development that fits into a design plan.

An example continually brought up by residents was theKeswick apartment complex, a dense group of three and four-story buildings at the corner of Route 424 and Duke of Kent Street.

Resident Dick Strauss called it a "monstrosity" and asked how such a light blue wood frame design could be built when it doesn't match the red-brick single family homes and town houses surrounding it.

Although Galloway said the county has no way of controlling design, he said it hopes to exert some influence through various committees they hope to establish.

He said the committees will be modeledafter the group of residents and developers that has started designing Odenton.

"With you, we can regulate these things," Galloway told the Crofton residents. "The developers scream bloody murder when you do."

But residents said they had heard that before -- back in 1972 when the land the Keswick apartments sit on was a small forest.

State Delegate Marsha Perry, D-Crofton, said the county had promisedto keep open the land between Odenton -- where three massive communities are under construction -- and Crofton.

"Now it's all filling in," Perry said. "That is counterproductive to what we were promised."

Galloway said he is trying to deal with what is in the works now. The issue, he said, is "How can we get the best possible product with what we have."

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