Future Order for Odenton

March 24, 1994

As the old saying goes, the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. Odenton has no deficiency in that regard.

The western Anne Arundel County town sits midway between not only Baltimore and Washington but Annapolis and Columbia, too. It is located at the confluence of Maryland routes 170, 174, 175 and 32 and is bisected by a railroad line served by MARC commuter and Amtrak long-distance trains. Central Maryland's major north-south arteries, Interstate 97 (formerly Route 3) and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, are also nearby. Considering all that, it is not surprising Odenton's population is projected to grow by a whopping 73 percent from about 11,000 to 36,338 by 2010, while Anne Arundel's population as a whole is expected to increase by a smaller, but still significant 21 percent.

These are some of the statistics that helped define the Odenton Town Plan, a 147-page document that seeks to chart a future course for the community. Prepared by a committee appointed by County Executive Robert R. Neall, the plan recognizes Route 175 as the element that binds the various parts of the town. "Odenton is still evolving from its historic past as a railroad and military community," the plan's first draft says. "There are opportunities for the continued transformation of Odenton from a small town into a suburban residential and employment center."

To implement this transformation, the committee considers a number of organizational options. Among the ideas is an authority to manage Odenton's growth and promote its revitalization; a development corporation; a transportation management association to promote transit services and ride-sharing; a special benefit assessment district, a special taxing district and several other possibilities. These options, all subject to further community discussion, aim to answer the central question: Who will lead Odenton through this explosive growth?

Since the town was designated as one of three so-called town centers in the county in 1968, its progress toward orderly growth has been slower than that of Glen Burnie and Parole. Quick and comprehensive planning is needed -- ranging from design guidelines to general strategy. Odenton area residents should use the town plan as a start in that catch-up process.

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