Council approves development plan Growth confined to areas served by public utilities

September 03, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

The County Council adopted a plan for development last night that for the next 23 years aims to confine growth to areas served by public utilities, let communities develop specific land use and zoning plans, and preserve rural areas in South County.

The seven-member council unanimously approved the General Development Plan.

"The plan reaffirms that our open space and our sensitive environmental areas are important and need to be preserved," said Richard Josephson, director of long-range planning for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement (PACE).

The plan had its critics, especially South County preservationists, who came out in force to several public hearings this spring and summer, fearing the plan would encourage sprawl and commercialization in rural areas, instead of discouraging it.

"The plan as amended is definitely more favorable to South

County," said Councilman John J. Klocko, who represents the area. "It has more emphasis on preserving agricultural land and identifying the methods" of preservation.

The legislation updates a 1978 plan and continues a strategy of corralling growth and limiting the areas of the county where public utilities, which attract development, will be added, according to county officials.

The plan would concentrate 90 percent of development into just 40 percent of the land, most of that in the western and northern parts of the county -- areas that already have or are slated to receive water and sewer and where roads and mass transit exist or are scheduled.

To contain growth, the plan creates mixed-use areas, where, for example, houses, shopping and employment would be built around MARC stations. But terms such as mixed-use and primary growth area put some residents on edge when they envisioned being overrun by development.

Last night, Councilman Bert Rice of West County wanted assurance from PACE's director, Steven R. Cover, that an area ** marked for commercial mixed-use on Route 3 at Waugh Chapel Road would not go beyond the 71-acre development already approved there.

In a change from the comprehensive rezoning process of the past, planners have divided the county into 16 areas and residents of those areas will develop land use and zoning plans. Those plans will include, for example, ways to improve 15 sites designated as commercial revitalization areas.

"Let's fix them up, and let's work with citizens," Josephson said. "The plan gives people an opportunity to address what they think are the needs of their community."

The first small area committees will begin meeting this fall, according to Josephson.

Also at last night's meeting, scores of unionized county clerical workers, mechanics and other workers picketed the Arundel Center before the 7 p.m. meeting and packed the council chambers to protest a personnel bill affecting about 3,500 county employees.

The bill institutes a policy against abuse of sick leave and requires mechanics to pass certification exams to be promoted, among other changes.

But union representatives said the county should have negotiated those changes instead of slipping them into legislation.

Members of Local 582 and Local 2563 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees let out a round of shouts and applause when Councilman George F. Bachman questioned Thomas Mullenix, acting county personnel officer, on why the sick leave abuse policy was not negotiated.

"But you don't get it through negotiation, you try to get it through legislation," Bachman said.

Mullenix said the legislation was an attempt to get a uniform policy for all employees, except for those in the Fire Department, which has its own rules.

The approximately 800 members in Local 582 and 380 in Local 2563 have been working without an agreement since June 30, according to Mullenix.

In other business, the county administration withdrew an emergency bill that would have included a controversial rubble landfill in the county's solid waste master plan.

The bill was no longer necessary, the administration determined, since the county had already complied with part of a judge's order in a lawsuit against the county by the developer of Chesapeake Terrace landfill, proposed for an area near Gambrills and Crofton.

The council may consider the landfill when it conducts its normal three-year review of the solid waste plan this fall, according to county officials.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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