Help from abroad Anne Arundel: Outside land-use experts can give South County perspective on development issues.

October 01, 1998

SOUTH COUNTY residents have called in reinforcements. In their struggle to contain development and defend the area's rural character, several organizations are participating in Countrywide Exchange, which will bring an international team of land-use experts to review South County's situation.

Since this team has not been embroiled in South County's protracted battles over development, sponsors of the international effort expect it will bring a fresh perspective to some old issues.

Eight land-use professionals from Canada, Europe and the United States will try to answer basic questions. How much and what kind of growth is appropriate for South County? Where should growth be concentrated? What will it take to ensure that the economic mainstays of South County -- agriculture and fishing -- survive?

Many of these questions are being discussed and analyzed in the General Development Plan and will be studied in even greater detail in the small-area planning process. But the team will add its own insights and experience to the discussion.

The European participation could be very useful. Europeans have been extremely successful in preserving their rural regions in the face of swelling populations and widespread industrialization.

"It's like having a high-powered consulting group at your disposal," explains Frances Flanigan, executive director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The cost will be minimal. The professionals are volunteering their time, and the sponsors pay for their lodging, meals and transportation.

It's hard to predict what the team's findings will be. Perhaps they may just confirm the plans already developed. Perhaps the team may have innovative suggestions that no one has considered. xTC Regardless of these outside recommendations, South County's planning efforts should benefit.

Pub date 10/1/98

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