Proposed Broadneck peninsula zoning changes hotly debated

Residents worry about overcrowding, property values

July 16, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

With the future look and feel of the Broadneck peninsula in the balance, about 250 residents crammed into the Board of Education meeting room last night and told an Anne Arundel County planning advisory board to leave their neighborhood the way it is.

A handful of proposed changes, recommended by a 15-member Small Area Planning Committee that has been reviewing development and zoning maps and land uses in the area for 18 months, have annoyed many residents. They say those proposals will mean the difference between balance and a clean environment, and overcrowding and lower property values.

"New commercial properties mean damage to the environment," said Sage Mumma, a resident and vice president of the newly formed Arnold Preservation Council. "Once the damage is done, it takes years and thousands of tax dollars to undo the damage."

Last night's meeting was one of the last steps of a nearly two-year process to devise a comprehensive zoning plan for the county. Broadneck is one of six communities that have evaluated their neighborhoods and surrounding areas through a small area planning committee, and made recommendations to the county's planning advisory board. The purpose of the committees is to develop a general plan for the future of growth and development in their neighborhoods.

The board will take comments from community members at public hearings like the one held last night, and through letters before passing on recommendations to County Executive Janet S. Owens.

Owens will propose a comprehensive plan to the County Council later this year, and the council will vote on the final plan.

At issue last night were a handful of changes the Broadneck committee has proposed, including changing a six-acre parcel along Ritchie Highway from low-density residential to commercial zoning.

The land, owned by Clarence Jordan for 65 years, is bordered on three sides by commercial establishments. Committee chairman Steve Carr said that committee members were simply being realistic about Broadneck's current configuration.

"What we tried to do was say the zoning should reflect the current uses," Carr said. "If the land is being built out [residential] and it's zoned [low-density], it should be zoned residential. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, call it a duck, don't call it a shorebird."

Carr said Jordan had approached the committee months ago, offering his property for consideration as a place for commercial development. The property, adjacent to a moving company and the Arnold Station shopping center, is an ideal location, supporters say.

"Some commercial expansion is healthy," said Nancy Baker, a 20-year resident. "The Jordan property should be zoned commercial because it is no longer a place to leave on Ritchie Highway."

But Genevieve Cromwell, another longtime resident, said commercial development would have too great a negative impact on the area because it would invite commercial sprawl and encourage traffic congestion.

"Community service businesses are already in place in Arnold," she said. "The distinctiveness of the trees would be a tremendous loss to the area. Traffic would be particularly dangerous."

Other hotly debated topics last night were:

A proposed change in zoning along West Joyce Lane that would allow only one house per acre to be built on the rural properties. Currently five houses can be built per acre; the change would impede one family who want to sell their property to developers.

A proposed change along East Joyce Lane that would allow denser population.

A proposal that a marina along Deep Creek, located in a critical area buffer, remain low-density residential to protect the environment.

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