Development for 2 decades is examined Planning group issues blueprint for managing sprawl

'Very interesting things'

Containing housing, business construction is focus of draft plan

November 01, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Twenty-five years from now, more than half of Anne Arundel County will remain forests and fields, while new homes and businesses will be limited to areas with existing public sewer and water systems.

At least that is what the 30-member General Development Plan Steering Committee envisions. The panel of citizens and merchants unveiled yesterday a preliminary draft of the blueprint for managing the county's growth and formulating public policy for the next two decades.

"We think there are some very interesting things in this plan," said Richard Josephson, director of long-range planning for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement. "This will establish the way the county will grow and develop into the 21st century."

Among the committee's recommendations is containing new residential and commercial construction within existing and planned public sewer and water system. That translates into designating only 40 percent of the county as land that can be developed, Josephson said.

To make sure large parts of the county remain untouched, the group also recommended:

Establishing transferable development rights, whereby a developer may buy a farmer's rights to develop his land and use it to build in areas where the local government wants growth.

Completing watershed management plans to lessen the impact of development on communities near the Patuxent, Severn, and South rivers and Herring Bay.

Establishing a fund to buy open space and greenways for recreational use.

"We heard a lot of people tell us to preserve the rural and agricultural heritage of the county," Josephson said. "This creates a well-reasoned balance between development and preservation."

A projected increase in the county's population, from 459,000 in 1995 to 531,000 in 2020 and 55,000 new jobs in the same period led the panel to focus on new housing and commercial building.

The committee recommended creating mixed use districts, which would permit residential, retail and office uses in the same area, and suggested that areas for such uses could include land along the Light Rail lines in Ferndale and Linthicum and beside the MARC stations in Savage and Jessup, said James Cannelli, assistant director for Planning and Code Enforcement.

"This is to discourage building any more four-lane highways," he said. "It's managing growth so that we don't gobble up the county with more sprawl."

The panel also proposed building houses in clusters to use less land and offering incentives to developers who submit plans to build affordable housing for people 65 and over, a population expected to nearly double, from 43,000 in 1995 to 82,000 in 2020.

The committee also favored allowing communities to formulate their own plans to identify developable land, how it should be zoned and what design elements should be included.

A series of forums to discuss the plan are set. They are scheduled from 4: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m.:

Nov. 12 at Anne Arundel Community College.

Nov. 14 at Southern High School.

Nov. 19 at Glen Burnie High School.

Nov. 21 at Arundel High School.

"This will give the citizens a chance to add their thoughts," Cannelli said. "Ultimately, this is their plan."

Josephson said the committee will revise the plan after the forums and should have a final draft for the County Council by March.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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