Westinghouse Electric Corp. is seeking permission to develop 47 acres near the Bay Bridge more intensely than the county's Critical Area law allows.
The defense electronics and appliance manufacturer has asked the county to lift the "limited development" restrictions placed on 47 of the 115 acres it owns at U.S. 50 and Oceanic Drive, the site of Westinghouse's Oceanic Division. The county adopted its Critical Area rules in 1988.
Saying the original restrictions were a "mistake," Westinghouse officials want the property reclassified for "intense development." county hearing officer is considering the request.
Jack Martin, a spokesman for the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group, said the company wants the restrictions lifted to make the industrially zoned property marketable. The company hopes to sell 82 acres within the Critical Area, a protected, 1,000-foot strip along the banks of the bay and its tributaries.
The property, including a 35-acre freshwater pond and its surrounding wetlands, was shown on April 29 during an Anne Arundel Trade Council tour of potential sites for out-of-state businesses interested in moving to Maryland.
Martin said the pond and wetlands would remain classified as a "resource conservation area," prohibiting industrial or commercial development.
"We're looking for the right buyer who shares the same concerns for the environment and the Chesapeake Bay as Westinghouse," Martin said.
Nearby residents and environmentalists oppose any changes in
the Critical Area restrictions.
Michael Hoffman, chairman of the Anne Arundel chapter of the Sierra Club, said his group is petitioning state officials to acquire the land as part of the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza or an addition to Sandy Point State Park.
"That is sort of the gateway to Anne Arundel County, and for that matter, this side of the bay," Hoffman said. "One side [Sandy Point] is already protected. It would be nice to see the other side protected as well."
The Oceanic Division, which manufactures sonar and other electronic systems for the Navy, would continue operating at the site, Martin said. The sale is part of a corporate-wide effort to make better use of its surplus land.