Parole plan targets roads, permit process Neall calls redevelopment a priority

November 12, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Road improvements and a streamlined permit process highlight a Parole redevelopment plan given the go-ahead by County Executive Robert R. Neall, who said the sprawling shopping district near Annapolis will be one of the major concerns of his last year in office.

Mr. Neall said he would submit a Parole Urban Design Plan to the County Council in January.

The plan would incorporate recommendations from the county's planning department and a committee formed to review those recommendations. Under the plan, Parole would be transformed over 30 years into a mid-rise urban center with stores, offices and residences, all connected by pedestrian walkways and courts.

"As you may know, 1994 will be the final year of my administration, and setting forth a well-defined plan for the development of Parole is a top priority," Mr. Neall said last week in a letter to A. Scott Mobley, chairman of the Parole Growth Management Committee.

Mr. Mobley said he was generally pleased with Mr. Neall's response, which concentrated on short-term tasks, such as pushing through legislation to set up the renewal plan and a commitment to road improvements.

In focusing on road projects, Mr. Neall will tackle the most obvious defect of the traffic-clogged Parole area. In the capital budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1994, Mr. Neall will recommend the following projects:

* Construction of a southbound ramp from Jennifer Road to Route 2.

* Widening Riva Road from northeast of Admiral Cochrane Drive to Aris T. Allen Boulevard to provide a right-turn-only lane.

* Construction of a ramp onto Aris T. Allen Boulevard from Admiral Cochrane Drive via Spruill Road.

* Planning and engineering the construction of Medical Boulevard from Bestgate Road to Jennifer Road. Money for the construction will have to come from private developers.

Mr. Neall said he will submit a bill to the council before the end of the year amending a 1990 law governing development in Parole.

The bill's provisions will include several incentives to encourage development in Parole.

To encourage developers to build complexes with a mix of offices, stores and housing, those who build in the designated Parole core would not have to devote as much area to open green space as developers who build elsewhere in the county. The reduction in green space can only be used for buildings, not for parking.

In another incentive, buildings would be allowed to take up larger portions of a lot than is now allowed by county law.

A streamlined review process will reduce the number of steps for project approval from three to two.

Impact fees paid by developers within the Parole Growth Management Area must be spent for projects in that area.

At the committee's urging, Mr. Neall said he has approached the City of Annapolis with a proposal to establish a land-use planning group to coordinate development strategies.

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, whose district includes Parole, welcomed the swift timetable for legislation.

"I just thought it was going to sit, so I'm very glad," she said.

But when the bills reach the council, they will not necessarily sail through. Ms. Lamb predicted a fight over limiting building heights.

In the 1990 law governing growth in Parole, buildings were allowed to rise to 16 stories.

But when the county Planning Department issued a draft of the Parole Urban Design Plan last November, it recommended capping building heights at 12 stories. The growth management committee that reviewed the plan was bitterly divided over the provision.

"It got too argumentative and we couldn't reach consensus, so we just let it stay as it was," Mr. Mobley said.

The committee removed the planning department's recommendation for a 12-story cap, leaving it at 16 stories. The higher construction was supported by environmentalists on the committee, who argued that higher and denser growth in Parole would divert growth from environmentally sensitive areas.

"I was really surprised that they made that decision," Ms. Lamb said. "I had hoped they would drop it. I was really disappointed at that."

Don't be surprised, she said, if the issue comes up again during the council's public hearings on the plan.

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