Mayo-Edgewater plan draws critics at forum Audience members call zoning outline unrealistic

November 20, 1998|By Kirsten Scharnberg | Kirsten Scharnberg,SUN STAFF

County officials and small-area planning committee members presented a preliminary 20-year vision statement for Mayo and Edgewater at a public forum last night, but their work was greeted with equal parts skepticism and disgust by area residents.

Harwood resident Bill Foley summed up audience opinion for the night:

"This looks good on paper," he said. "But it's not realistic."

The vision statement, drafted by a county-appointed committee of 15 members, is meant to help guide the county as it determines the use of private property and public spending over the next two decades. Under the small-area planning committee initiative, Anne Arundel County is divided into 16 zones that will draft vision plans and make recommendations for growth and development in their areas.

The one-page statement for the Mayo/Edgewater area calls for it to be, in 20 years, a "mixed-use rural area of controlled growth in environmentally sensitive peninsulas."

It recommends the addition of bicycle and pedestrian paths and bus stops along Routes 2 and 214, in hopes of reducing traffic on the congested Mayo and Edgewater peninsulas.

Residents didn't disagree with the idea, but they told the committee it was naive to think bus stops and bike paths would reduce traffic 20 years from now.

"If it's bad now, it's only going to be worse then," said Ricky Dicken, an Edgewater resident for about 20 years. "I don't know how familiar you are with the people who live here, but they are mostly blue-collar workers, and those people need their cars for work. They don't take the bus to work and carry their tools in their back packs."

The vision statement will also recommend potential zoning changes. Route 2, the corridor into Edgewater and South County, was a hot topic of conversation with people demanding a curb on fast-food establishments.

"It's the fast-food corridor," said committee member Elizabeth Delcasillo. "It looks like Colonel Sanders is our mayor."

One of the greatest sources of contention was the way the committee had been chosen.

A powerful South County group, the South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, has mailed letters to County Executive-elect Janet S. Owens and to the county's Office of Planning and Code Enforcement demanding new appointments.

"We feel the potential good of the [committees is] being undermined by a selection process accomplished in secret, empowering those individuals selected primarily by members of the outgoing administration."

The group took issue with the fact that outgoing County Executive John G. Gary appointed the small-area planning committee members.

ZTC "Citizens in the Mayo-Edgewater area are asking that their small-area planning group, selected by the Gary administration, be disbanded and the process begin again with a new group that is more representative of the communities it serves," the letter states.

The vision statement will be amended with public statements from last night taken into consideration.

A final draft likely will not be presented to the county until early next year.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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