Town centers seem to be getting popular.
Just as the county is finishing designing one in Parole and working on a second in Odenton, residents of another community have expressed interest.
This time, it's the people representing Greater Crofton. They arenot sure exactly what they want, but they are interested enough to have county planners come out next week and give a talk.
"It soundslike something we might want to look into," said Donna Arbogast, whojust took over as president of the Greater Crofton Council. "It sounds like a good idea. We want to know exactly what it would entail, whether it would be appropriate for our area."
Town Center is a zoning classification used by the county planning office. It allows different types and sizes of buildings, depending on the area and what citizens want.
For example, a committee in Odenton passed a bill lastyear that spells out restrictions developers must follow for building in its 218-acre town center parcel.
Generally, town center zoning calls for a mixture of office buildings, service-related businessesand homes. It could result in a mini-city, complete with walkways, movie theaters, high-rises and restaurants.
The key word is integration -- a place that offers everything from jobs to shops to enough cultural events so people don't have to leave the area.
If buildingor incorporating such a place in the Crofton area is not the way to go, then at least the organizing concept used in town center planningshould be adopted, those proposing the idea say.
"We're getting squeezed on both ends," said John J. Klocko III, the founder of the Greater Crofton Council and the chairman of its transportation committee. "If planning is not integrated, we're going to be in a larger messthan we are already in."
Klocko said he is most concerned that little attention is paid to integrating roads and developments. Town center zoning, he said, takes both of those concepts, along with many others, into account.
Arbogast agreed there aren't enough service-related businesses to support people living in the Crofton area, but said addressing that concern may not require building a mini-city.
The area "is definitely growing, and we want to make sure our services are able to take care of the people who are coming," she said. "It's been designated as a growth area. We want to stay on top of things."
Ed Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, a special tax district bordered by routes 3, 424 and 450, said his group has looked into small-area planning before.
While not convinced a town center is needed, he praised the Greater Crofton Council for studying the issue.
"Everything and anything that can be investigated and talked about is good," he said. "It shows forward thinking."