Board hears plan to turn Parole into urban center

May 27, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The county planning board was presented last night with a plan to transform Parole from an ugly and confusing sprawl of parking lots and shopping centers into an urban center with shopping, offices and condominiums.

The scheme was presented by the Parole Growth Management Advisory Committee which has been working for some time on a plan to improve the 1,500-acre retail area to the west of Annapolis.

The committee wants pedestrian walkways, improved transportation, distinctive street-level features and preservation of environmentally sensitive areas.

The urban design plan was mandated in legislation passed by the County Council in 1990.

Last night's presentation to the Planning Advisory Board, a citizens group that must approve all capital projects, is a first step before presenting the Parole design plan to the County Council. Richard B. Josephson, the county's planning administrator, said the Parole Urban Design Plan should be submitted to the council, along with related legislation, by next month.

The plan divides Parole into three areas. North Parole, north of Route 50, comprises the area around the Annapolis Mall and the Anne Arundel Medical Center, where retail and office developments would be encouraged.

Most of the growth would be concentrated in Central Parole, around the existing Parole Plaza, which would be an urban core of retail, office and residential uses.

"You might say the urban core is the key to the whole project," Mr. Josephson said.

He said the central area now "is typical of urban strip development," with a preponderance of asphalt parking lots and low-lying stores. There are major problems with traffic congestion, he said.

The plan would create the feeling of a town center, encouraging the construction of two-story to six-story buildings with fronts that would extend out to the street, instead of the current islands surrounded by an ocean of parking.

"So you'd be getting more of a traditional street scene, like the traditional downtown," Mr. Josephson said.

In South Parole, or Riva, planners would encourage government offices and high-tech businesses in the Annapolis Science Center.

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