County Council makes Parole plan unlikely

Vote reverses `abuse' of land-use policy

February 17, 1999|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Expect less sprawl near Annapolis Mall.

The Anne Arundel County Council revised the county's land-use plan near Annapolis Mall last night and made it difficult for developers proposing to build dozens of apartments and shops on Bestgate Road.

The council's action, which came in a 5-2 vote, means that Annapolis Marketplace LLC will face an uphill battle in persuading the county to rezone a 60-acre parcel along Bestgate Road. The county's land-use plan now says that such a project would be inappropriate.

Dozens of residents applauded the council's action, saying after the meeting that the decision sends a message to developers that they shouldn't let their projects spread beyond the boundaries of an area the county set aside for growth in 1994.

In approving legislation proposed by Councilwoman Barbara Samorajczyk, a Democrat from Annapolis, the council reversed a November 1997 change to the county's land-use plan for the Parole area that she called an "abuse" of the planning process.

That revision last year, introduced by former county executive John G. Gary, gave the green light to plans by Annapolis Marketplace LLC to build an unspecified number of apartments and shops on Bestgate Road near Annapolis Mall.

Samorajczyk last night described Gary's revision of the boundaries of the Parole Town Center -- the area set aside for growth -- as corrosive to the whole idea of planning for growth in certain targeted areas to prevent sprawl in other areas.

"If you throw out the plan here on Bestgate Road, then there is no plan," Samorajczyk told the council. "The integrity of the process must be preserved."

Representatives of the developer did not address the council last night. But last month, spokesman Robert Agee told The Sun that the proposal would not lead to sprawl because residents could walk to shops, thus reducing traffic and creating a pedestrian-friendly village.

Barbara Palmer, an attorney representing a neighborhood organization called Citizens for Responsible Parole Planning, cautioned that last night's vote may not stop the developers.

The county's Board of Appeals will begin hearings March 16 on whether to rezone some of the land on Bestgate Road from residential to commercial, Palmer said. The project could be allowed under new zoning so the battle is not over, she said.

Despite that uncertainty, residents who oppose the project celebrated last night.

"This is a victory for the democratic process and for the citizens of this county," said John Flood, a 43-year-old environmental consultant.

Voting in favor of Samorajczyk's bill last night were Samorajczyk from the 6th District, John J. Klocko III from the 7th District, Bill Burlison from the 4th District, Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. from the 2nd District and A. Shirley Murphy from the 3rd District.

Voting against the bill were Cliff Roop from the 5th District and Pamela Beidle from the 1st District.

Pub Date: 2/17/99

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