Speak Out!

July 09, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE -- 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. The consulting firm had 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 plan called for turning Bay Ridge Road into a Main Street-style thoroughfare lined with shops, bike lanes, sidewalks and on-street parking. But many Annapolis Neck residents, who live outside the city, worried that the plans would worsen traffic in an already congested area. City officials plan to take a second look at the issue. Some community leaders favor a bill that would delay development until the city has an adequate public facilities ordinance. The city council is set to vote on the bill tomorrow. What kind of development should be allowed in the Bay Ridge Road area? Should the city delay development plans there until an adequate facilities ordinance is adopted?

Development will benefit communities

Mayor Ellen Moyer and her administration proposed some interesting possibilities for the development of the Annapolis portion of the Annapolis Neck/Forest Drive/Bay Ridge Corridor. Under the leadership of her innovative planning director, Jon Arason, they suggested plans that would slow down traffic and create a village atmosphere for that area. People jumped to the conclusion that these suggestions were already planned, approved and to be implemented.

Many of the people at these meetings were rude and did not allow the exchange of ideas that was the purpose of the plan. The Annapolis Neck residents and others who live [outside the city] in the county made up the majority of those in attendance. Clearly, their opinions are important as they are affected by what happens in the city. However, the Annapolis Neck Small Area Plan that was adopted by the Anne Arundel County Council in March 2003 clearly identifies nine Activity Centers: on pages 18- 23. One of these Activity Centers is called Outer Neck and encompasses the area that Mayor Moyer wanted to explore.

Quoting from page 18, "The Activity Centers also provide services to nearby neighborhoods, thus reducing the time and distance traveled for basic retail goods and services. Future commercial development should be concentrated in these mixed-use activity centers."

Oversimplified, the goal is to provide services to the people in the Annapolis Neck and Hillsmere Shores, etc., so that they don't have to burden the roads by driving into Annapolis and other parts of the county. It's that simple.

We need to encourage quality commercial uses in these Activity Centers. I would humbly suggest that before the county residents blast the mayor and planning director, they review the Annapolis Neck Small Area Plan that their county representatives and community associations supported.

We applaud the mayor for the continuing dialogue she is having in each of the Annapolis neighborhoods.

John S. Pantelides Annapolis

The writer represents the Anne Arundel County Alliance For Fair Land Use

Officials need to get residents' input

How appropriate the question was considering that we just celebrated the birth of a nation committed to governance "by and for the people." Absolutely, the Annapolis city government needs to revisit the plans for development along Bay Ridge Road. When people are ignored, they get angry. When people's homes and way of life are threatened, they get defensive. This time, Annapolis government officials might avoid the righteous anger of their constituency by consulting with the people throughout the planning process. As for the adequate facilities ordinance, it should be in place prior to construction. However, if it is shamefully distorted and ignored as Anne Arundel County's is, it will be of little use.

Maryellen Brady Edgewater

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