Annapolis Summits praised as community planning model Environmental meetings were begun last year

October 25, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis Summits, occasional gatherings of experts in ecologically sound land use, "green" economists, local residents and government officials, are being hailed nationally as an innovation in community planning.

Susan F. Boyd, executive director of Concern Inc., a nonprofit group in Washington, called the sessions "an ambitious undertaking."

"What Annapolis is doing is engaging a broad cross-section of the community in developing a vision of the future that everyone can work on together," said Ms. Boyd, whose group included the summits in a national directory of innovative local programs that it publishes.

The Summits also are among 100 local innovations featured in a new publication of the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program. An award will go to one of those programs at the end of next month.

The summits, begun a year ago, are the brainchild of Anne Pearson, who heads the Bowie-based Alliance for Sustainable Communities. The fourth one is scheduled Nov. 10 and 11 at the state Department of Natural Resources building.

"I've hated the sprawl here, the lack of amenities, the disrespect for the land and the waters. Years ago, my children got crabs from the creeks; we swam in Weems Creek. Some of these creeks now have signs up that say you can't go in there," Ms. Pearson said.

Ms. Pearson "gets the citizens involved and comes up with a project and gets it done," said Barbara Butler, a fellow on land, growth and stewardship with the Chesapeake Bay Program.

The Clay Street Pioneers Eco-Plus group, which grew out of the summits, is trying to start a business to build and sell barrels to save rainwater for dry spells or allow it to seep into the ground, Ms. Pearson said. Such a business also could help revitalize the Clay Street area, one of the poorest in Annapolis.

The group plans to have a demonstration project ready for the next summit.

Other projects have included drafting a map of places in Anne Arundel County that people find sacred -- because they are scenic, historic or foster a sense of community -- to use in updating Anne Arundel County's general development plan.

Next month's gathering, Annapolis Summit IV: Solutions from the Ground Up, will provide advice on starting storm-water gardens and other neighborhood environmental projects and discussions on local solutions to problems of transportation, sprawl and economic viability.

For more information, call (410) 741-0125 or (410) 867-7956.

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