Saddened by suburban sprawl? Sick of storm water runoff? Depressed about shrinking wetlands?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there will be plenty of time to consider possible solutions next month at the Annapolis Summit. The all-day conference on county land preservation will be held at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Jan. 14.
"People feel there is too much random growth and it isn't planned to complement the community," said event organizer Anne Pearson, who runs the Annapolis Alliance for Sustainable Communities, a preservation group.
The environmentalists, developers, city planners and community leaders attending the conference will focus on ways to protect Anne Arundel County's undeveloped land and motivate grass-roots preservation efforts. About 200 people showed up last year for the first Annapolis Summit.
As residents of Washington and Baltimore increasingly discover the Annapolis area, open land increasingly is turned into housing developments.
"We see homes being built in Anne Arundel County on great big pieces of land," said Pat Burroughs, an environmentalist with the West River Association in Southern Anne Arundel County. "Let's face it, we are going to grow, we are going to develop. But what is the best way to do it?"
Ms. Burroughs said Annapolis planners have overlooked the "town center" concept for new development. Calvert County and other areas are experimenting with that concept, which calls for building homes close together with communal lawns and open spaces to one side.
Development in the southern part of Arundel is calm compared with the frenetic pace of building in the county's northern reaches, she said. Ms. Burroughs questions whether the area's roads, sewer system and general infrastructure can handle the growth.
At next month's event, participants will talk about which "sacred places" in the county are worth protecting.
"You have to create this idea of sacred spaces so that people feel passionate about their surroundings," said Daniel Martin, a New York-based environmentalist and writer who will speak at the summit. "Once people feel a passion for something, they treat it differently."
These "sacred spaces" can be anything from a favorite bar to a quiet wetland, he said.
Low-income neighborhoods also are threatened by development. Rising property tax rates could force low-income residents out of their homes.
"Affordable housing is just as important as the environmental issues. Real estate prices have been driven very, very high and it's difficult for people to find affordable homes," said Larry White, a local developer who specializes in building affordable communities.
The cost of the summit is $20. For more information, call (410) 741-0125.