Trade-offs called key to Parole makeover Incentives urged for developers

October 04, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The transformation of Parole from an unsightly, asphalt-covered, traffic-clogged retail hodgepodge will take careful planning that emphasizes good roads, intelligent transportation systems and concern for water quality, according to a citizen panel.

And the best way to accomplish those goals, the panel believes, is to offer developers something in return.

"To get the developer to be agreeable to do some of these things for the environment, give him some incentives," said A. Scott Mobley, chairman of the 23-member Parole Growth Management Committee.

For example, if a developer exceeds the county's water quality standards and limits water and silt runoff that fouls area streams, the requirements for green areas, setbacks and buffers might be decreased.

"A negotiated trade-off is what it would be," said A. R. "Red" Waldron, a committee member.

The committee, made up of environmentalists, developers and citizens, has met weekly for several months to review a report prepared by the county's planning department last November.

County Executive Robert R. Neall has read the report and is expected to respond this week. The plan eventually will be proposed to the County Council as legislation.

Mr. Neall "liked the report," said Samuel F. Minnette, an assistant to Mr. Neall. "He received their recommendations warmly. . . . We're wrestling with it and trying to prepare a comprehensive response."

The committee basically liked the planning department's 30-year blueprint for the 1,500-acre area: an urban mix of retail shops, offices and some residences centered on Parole Plaza, connected by pedestrian walkways and open green space.

The blueprint would concentrate new development in Parole while diverting growth from the surrounding environmentally sensitive areas, such as Crownsville, Crofton and Edgewater.

However, committee members offered several modifications, including an emphasis on transportation and concern for the environment. The area is considered too dependent on cars, with little pedestrian access. And, because the growth management area occupies part of five creek watersheds, runoff and water quality were of special concern.

The committee noted that it was especially important to create an intelligent plan and stick to it, and to make sure things get built in the proper sequence.

"We're always after the fact. Something goes in and then, 'Gee, we have too much traffic,' " Mr. Mobley said. "In other words, let's try to lead, not lag. And the county has a responsibility when it comes to transportation to see there is sufficient infrastructure," instead of leaving it up to the developer.

The committee rejected a controversial proposal by the planning department to amend a 1990 law and allow buildings 16 stories high instead of 12 stories.

"There were mixed feelings on that," Mr. Mobley said. "Some of the environmentalists felt it is was better to build up and preserve more of the space, and others felt it should be capped. In the end, we left it where it was."

Mr. Waldron, who also is chairman of the Severn River Commission, was one of those fighting to hold down the height of buildings. "My own personal view is that it's out of scale with everything else, and it isn't a wonderful way to introduce Annapolis to the rest of the world," he said of allowing taller buildings.

"I don't know what you could do in 16 stories that wouldn't generate . . a lot of traffic."

The committee also recommended that buses and "people movers" be used to reduce traffic between the offices in the southern Riva section with the Annapolis Mall, Restaurant Park and Parole Plaza areas. The system would operate between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The key to coordinating transportation into and out of Parole, it said, would be a facility near Holly Avenue with a tourist center, parking, the shuttle bus and possibly light rail, if it is extended to Annapolis.

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