Caring for a 'golden goose' Airport strategy: Developing plan for BWI business corridor is necessary and timely.

April 07, 1997

IF THERE IS A GOOSE in Anne Arundel County capable of laying golden eggs, it is the area surrounding Baltimore-Washington International Airport. BWI Business Partnership's desire to assemble a strategic plan for this important area could not be more timely.

While the 80-square-mile area in Linthicum is far from saturated, poorly planned building could do considerable damage to the businesses already in place and destroy the allure for those seeking to locate near BWI. The Business Partnership's preliminary statement indicates that its primary concerns are improving the transportation infrastructure and developing a system of flexible zoning.

Focusing on transportation is appropriate. Without the convergence of various transportation systems -- roads, rail and air -- this area would not be as attractive to business. Maintaining and improving the network of roads, freight and passenger rail lines and the airport must continue as a top priority.

Most of the major highways are in place and operating, with the exception of a small stretch of Route 32 near the National Security Agency. As more businesses locate in the area, local feeder roads will need upgrading. Finding the money to finance these improvements will be a challenge. Considering the budget constraints of local and state governments, any ideas from this group would be most welcome.

Development has been able to flourish under the current zoning. The BWI Business Partnership correctly recognizes that circumstances have changed.

As commercial and business development fills in the acreage around the airport, a more urban-styled, regulatory scheme for land use is needed. The group advocates mixed-use zoning, allowing a wide variety of enterprises to locate in the area.

The only caveat we offer about the vision statement is its call for expedited permitting. Speed is not the only issue. Maintaining quality is critical, too. Creating an efficient and expeditious regulatory process is desirable as long as the process doesn't become a rubber-stamp of every development proposal.

A few poorly placed, poorly conceived project could set back the attempt to coax more eggs from this goose.

Pub Date: 4/07/97

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