City of Odenton an option being considered


When a public meeting was held last weekend to consider whether Odenton should become Anne Arundel County's third incorporated city, about 15 people attended.

One who attended was Jamie Benoit, 34, a lawyer and a Democratic candidate for County Council. He said yesterday that he is cautiously optimistic about exploring the subject.

"We are going to have a population explosion in this area in the next decade," Benoit said, "and then we should have enough of a tax base to support incorporation into a city."

County Executive Janet S. Owens appeared to agree. "The progress made in Odenton over the last six to seven years has laid the groundwork for phenomenal opportunity," she said yesterday.

Benoit noted the planned Odenton Town Center project and the predicted increase of thousands of jobs at Fort Meade as two factors driving the discussions of cityhood. The biggest hurdle, proponents say, is laying the groundwork to provide a new city's services, including a police force and a fire department.

The Town Center, an anticipated residential and retail complex, would be close to the recently constructed West County library in Odenton, near routes 170 and 175, which some say will create a nexus in Odenton.

According to data from the 2000 Census, Odenton's population was about 20,500. Estimates now put that number closer to 30,000.

David Alan Tibbetts, a civic activist on the board of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association, said the meeting generated enthusiasm and an action plan. Tibbetts advocates the cityhood concept. "We have an interest in doing something different, with the realization it could take five to 10 years," he said. "There's a consensus that the current system is not working for action, even on projects like a parking garage."

As a next step, Tibbetts said, a committee has been formed to consider options available to Odenton residents, including a special tax assessment district similar to Crofton's or full incorporation into a municipality.

The only incorporated cities in Anne Arundel County are Annapolis and Highland Beach.

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