Growth plan seeks to curb urbanization Executive says infrastructure key to future development

No funds for roads, sewers

Slow-growth backers argue blueprint is not strict enough

March 02, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County officials unveiled a land-use blueprint Friday that would spur growth in areas that already have or are due for sewer service and aims to re-create villages by encouraging mixed land uses.

The plan continues a two-decade long trend toward shrinking the area of the county that can expect sewers to be built to whisk away waste -- crucial for high-density development.

Making it clear that the county lacks the money to build extensive roads and water and sewer lines, County Executive John G. Gary said that under the plan, 90 percent of development would be channeled into the 40 percent of the county where the infrastructure exists.

The plan was three years in the making, leading Republican Gary to say he had the idea of controlling sprawl before Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening, whose legislative Smart Growth proposals face a steep climb through the General Assembly.

"The state plan is a model of our plan," Gary said.

The Arundel plan has the potential to capitalize on Glendening's financial incentives to redevelop deteriorating close-in areas.

Gary said he made no changes to the plan voted on by a committee of business and community leaders. It includes four kinds of mixed-use corridors, green belts, three town centers, growth areas and a proposal for transferring development rights to protect pristine areas -- planning ideas that have helped channel growth in other jurisdictions.

Gary's plan divides the county into 16 small areas for detailed community planning purposes, which he said can work in harmony to provide a place for the 71,000 new residents expected in the next 20 years while protecting agriculture and environmentally sensitive places.

But even before the politically volatile plan was disclosed, discord erupted.

Five of the 28 members of the General Development Plan steering committee, which wrote the plan, voted against it, and South County activists are seething.

The plan shows a mixed use for the area of the controversial Village at Waugh Chapel, has tiny Wayson's Corner as a mixed commercial area and shows growth in clogged peninsulas, critics say.

Don Yeskey, president of the General's Highway Council of Civic Associations, said the developers of the Village at Waugh Chapel lobbied the committee so openly and heavily that some members "almost resigned over this issue." Noting that and the lack of clear definitions of small-area plans and mixed uses, he voted against the proposal.

Under county legislation adopted last year, Sturbridge Development Corp. has three years to devise a plan for mixed use at the intersection of Route 3 and Waugh Chapel Road. But if the company fails to create an acceptable plan within the time frame, they would get a second chance under the proposed General Development Plan, which designates the area for a commercial mix, Yeskey complained.

"That's not exactly the facts," said Robert DeStefano, head of Sturbridge.

The mixed-use designation simply shows the reality of the situation, he said, denying that he interfered with the committee's work. Among the growth areas are South County waterfront communities that some environmentalists say should never have been developed and got sewer systems only because their failing septic systems were fouling the Chesapeake Bay.

"Most of Deale, Shady Side is within 10 feet of sea level," said an unhappy Davis Craven, a Galesville member of the steering committee. "What's missing in the Smart Growth area is some indication that even though we could continue to build on it, we shouldn't."

County planning officials said the proposals reflect what exists in such areas as the Broadneck and Annapolis Neck peninsulas.

Burdening developed areas

But committee member Mary Marsh, past president of the Broadneck Federation and a Democratic Party activist, said that is an invitation to build even more in overdeveloped areas -- the reason she could not support the plan.

"The folks here in Broadneck are extremely aware and will be extremely upset if any further overdevelopment is permitted," she warned.

She was also bothered by what she viewed as too many mixed-use sites, which could increase density without providing more green space north of Route 100.

"These folks have to breathe something," she said.

The committee had one community member from Glen Burnie, and none from the north or northeastern areas of the county.

Gary said that at least one sizable park is in the works around Pasadena, that a road is proposed to link Mountain Road with areas north of it and that a bypass is possible for a section of Forest Drive in Annapolis.

Mixed reactions

Wayson's Corner, designated for commercial development two decades ago, won a commercial mix designation, a sore point with those who viewed the designation as potential for rural blight, but seen as a saving grace by others who contended that rural dwellers need some convenience shopping.

Conservationist Jane Sinclair said the overall proposal has many good points as well as some shortcomings. It offers village concepts and several ways for people to stop sprawl in their communities, she said.

Gary said he will not send the plan to the County Council for approval until after the council adopts a budget in May. He will delay until after his 1998 re-election bid the comprehensive rezoning that typically would follow County Council adoption of the development plan, he said.

"I am not going to have it brought up in a political election year. It's that simple," he said.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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