Development plans stall

Opposition leads Annapolis to rethink Bay Ridge Road proposal

June 30, 2006|By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON | NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON,SUN REPORTER

Annapolis backs off plans for junction Annapolis officials have backed away from a consultant's plan to turn a busy junction on Bay Ridge Road into more of an urban center, noting a heated response from county residents who attended two public meetings.

But Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said yesterday there would be more meetings regarding the Annapolis Neck area and more development.

"The staff felt like they had been uncivilly bashed and the meetings were counterproductive and we need to have productive meetings," she said. "Something is going to happen there, absolutely, whether it's under my administration or someone else's. But there has to be some coordination."

Moyer said she will push for more compatibility with residential neighborhoods. She sees a more eco-friendly area with hiking, biking and walking trails.

Daria Hardin, the city's chief of comprehensive planning, said the city is "going in the general right direction" with development plans, but will scrap the community forums for smaller neighborhood meetings.

"We had positive comments about the plan, too, but the public dialogue about it is too insurmountable for a division of two or three people to take on," she said.

About 400 people attended the two forums - one in May, the other this month. In a 30-page report, Wallace Roberts & Todd of Philadelphia recommended upgrading the area around Bay Ridge Road, Hillsmere Drive and Georgetown Road by redeveloping an aging plaza, acquiring homes for reuse and extending Georgetown Road.

The consultant also wanted to turn Bay Ridge Road into a Main Street-style thoroughfare lined with shops, bike lanes, sidewalks and on-street parking.

Many said the plan would worsen traffic on a stretch that already has significant delays. Forest Drive turns into Bay Ridge Road around Hillsmere Drive, near the city's southern boundary and at the gateway to several county neighborhoods. Even the recommendation to attract retail stores met with disapproval.

"Do we really need more nail salons and a CVS? People will find a way to get to a store within 20 miles," said Gwenn Azama of SaveYourAnnapolisNeck, who attended both meetings. "They did the study prior to getting input, it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Azama said she is glad the city is not going forward with the plans outlined in the study. Future plans should preserve forests on any annexed land, she said.

Six acres of county land would be annexed under the consultant's proposal.

The study is based on Annapolis' 1998 comprehensive plan proposing a "mixed use center" featuring residential, retail and commercial space.

Moyer said the study was "not carved in stone" and that she was disappointed that people in the community did not offer constructive input.

"I know people scream, `Not one more car,' but the challenge is to grapple with reality," she said. "It's an issue of smart growth over sprawl, and to say no growth is unrealistic."

In the coming weeks, Moyer will begin work on the city's 10-year plan.

Many who opposed the city plan are relieved but uncertain.

"Obviously, everybody is pleased that they've done this, but it's one small step," Steven A. Bookshester of Bay Ridge said.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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