County eyes scenic roads Council seeks to limit development's mark on certain routes

Concerns for landowners

Critics say law needs to protect property rights

November 04, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The scenic drive through the countryside is becoming an endangered species of entertainment in rapidly developing Anne Arundel County.

But County Council Chairwoman Diane R. Evans is proposing changes to local zoning laws to prevent it from becoming extinct.

The Arnold Republican introduced a resolution in the council last night suggesting that the county preserve 32 "scenic and historic roads" by requiring landowners to maintain trees and meadows along their edges.

The administration of County Executive John G. Gary supports a study of whether the concept can be woven into the county's land-use laws without preventing improvements to roads to ease traffic congestion, county officials said.

But some members of the business community are nervous that labeling a road as "scenic" could restrict the ability of landowners to develop their properties.

No date has been set for a vote on the resolution.

"My first thought would be we need to see a very thorough investigation of the impact on the rights of property owners," said David Plott, chairman of the legislative committee for the Anne Arundel Trade Council.

"If there are reasonable protections for property rights in the proposal, we would probably be supportive of it," Plott said in an interview.

The resolution asks the county administration to create a "Scenic and Historic Roads Program" over the next two years by making a series of changes in county zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations.

A commission of county residents has studied the possibility and submitted a report to the county suggesting that:

The County Council give scenic and historic roads one of three labels -- "preservation," "protection" or "recognition." The first classification would carry the most protections from development. The last would carry mostly voluntary suggestions for preservation.

The commission has suggested 32 roads for the "preservation" category, from River Road in the north of the county to Brooks Woods Road in the south.

The county require developers to maintain trees and shrubs along designated roads when they build homes. If this is not possible, the developer should plant replacement trees.

The county require developers to build homes along designated roads in clusters, so that open meadows and scenic vistas can be preserved.

The county limit new entrances onto designated roads.

The county discourage the construction of houses on ridges that would make development obvious to people driving past.

The county prevent the widening of scenic roads whenever possible.

The county require the construction of parking lots and other eyesores behind trees or hedges.

Evans said of the proposal: "I believe this is something we should add to the county's planning tools so we can preserve something that means a lot to us -- our quality of life."

County land-use spokesman John Morris cautioned that preserving scenic roads can involve sacrifices, including road improvements to reduce traffic congestion.

"You have to make choices," Morris said. "If you choose to preserve a scenic road, you are basically accepting that concept that there will be more traffic and slower traffic if development occurs in the area."

County views

Following is a list of roads that Anne Arundel County may seek to preserve as "scenic and historic roads."

River Road near the Patapsco Valley State Park

River Road east of Crownsville

Honeysuckle Lane west of Annapolis

Patuxent Road in the village of Woodwardville

Whitehall Road near Whitehall Creek

Harness Creek Road from Hunt Meadow Drive to the South River

Brooks Woods Road in south county

Chesterfield Road from St. Stephens Road to Allis Street in Sylmac

Brick Church Road southwest of Edgewater

Contees Wharf Road west of Mayo

Cumberstone Road in south county

Bayfields Road in south county

Governor Bridge Road in south county

Harwood Road in south county

Mill Swamp Road in south county

Polling House Road in south county

South Polling House Road in south county

South River Clubhouse Road in south county

Wayson Road in south county

Queen Anne Bridge Road in south county

Leitch Road in south county

Fairhaven Road (from Town Point Road to Friendship Road)

Sudley Road (from Route 255 to Nutwell-Sudley Road)

Franklin-Gibson Road (from Fairhaven Road to Trott's Branch Bridge)

Fisher Station Road in south county

Greenock Road in south county

Little Road in south county

Lower Pindell Road in south county

Upper Pindell Road in south county

Wrighton Road in south county

Plummer Lane in south county

Mallard Lane in south county

Pub Date: 11/04/97

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