Glen Burnie Must Address Weaknesses, Report Says

October 09, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

A new four-page report lists a strong sense of community, affordablehousing and proximity to major highways as just a few of Glen Burnie's many strengths.

But it also lists a lack of uniform planning, ahigh infant mortality rate, decaying commercial strips and a less-than-sterling image as some of its weaknesses.

Tallying the strengths and weaknesses of the newly released report, designed to be a look at the future by the three-member public works committee of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, the minus side slightly outweighs the plus side.

Many of the weaknesses acknowledged in the report, such as low expectations for higher education among high school graduates, are the kinds of things communities may not like to admit about themselves.

But as Kathy DeGrange, chairwoman of the committee, puts it, "If you're going to build a good

plan, you have to be honest with yourself."

The "plan" is a step-by-step outline that committee members hope will guide the growth and development of the greater Glen Burnie area over the next 25 years.

The three-member panel has scheduled a meeting next Tuesday to help fine-tune the plan and to work on five "core value statements" for the community. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Improvement Association hall on Crain Highway.

DeGrange said the committee began working on a plan for Glen Burnie's future about 10 months ago after realizing that the north county community lacked coordinated planning for roads, facilities, commercial areas and residential neighborhoods.

Some of the weaknesses listed in the report are the encroachment of commercial enterprises into residential neighborhoods and the deterioration of pedestrian walkways.

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"We realized that we were always being reactive," DeGrange said, adding that much of the developmentseemed to be haphazard. "The community had to try to rally support to fight each unpopular project as it arose, often after projects already were planned or even started."

The public works committee, with the help of the county Planning and Zoning Department's Community Design Team, decided that a community plan clearly defining the goals of Glen Burnie would help control the direction of development in thefuture.

"This plan will make us pro-active rather than reactive,"DeGrange said. "This is a community taking charge and saying, 'This is what we want for the future. This is what's important to us.' "

The approach has been tried successfully in other Maryland communities and in other states. DeGrange visited Lewes, Del., last weekend tosee improvements made there through a similar action plan.

"Glen Burnie is a community with a lot of character, and a large number of committed people who dearly love the place, yet you sense a lot of frustration (about how the area is developing) there," said Bruce Galloway, a coordinator of

the county's community design team. Maybe now it's time to get control over their future."

The planning committee held its first meeting last April, when community activists and residents drew up the list of Glen Burnie's strengths and weaknesses and produced the "core value" statements and the four-page report.

The committee has invited individuals from more than 70 community andcivic associations, business groups, churches and local schools to attend next week's meeting, said DeGrange. Committee members want a "good cross-section of the community."

The committee also invited representatives from many surrounding communities, such as Ferndale andMarley, areas that may be considered part of the greater Glen Burniearea.

"We want this process to be as inclusive as possible," DeGrange said. "This meeting is for anyone who feels they are a stake-holder in the future of Glen Burnie."

DeGrange said she thinks Glen Burnie is a wonderful place to live, but it does have its share of problems. During the first meeting, some residents said Glen Burnie has an unfavorable image residents hope to change.

"We're known as Chrome City to some people; people drive up from Salisbury to buy a car," DeGrange said.

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