July 30, 2006

County at forefront of renewal, reuse

The Sun's recent series on housing shortages creates the misimpression that adaptive re-use of blighted properties is a new idea. It also paints me as a "pro-growth" legislator, which oversimplifies my work to the point of being misleading.

I am not pro-growth, but I am anti-blight and pro-renewal. I have been working on revitalization and reuse since being elected to the Anne Arundel County Council eight years ago. I have sponsored or co-sponsored numerous legislative initiatives toward that end, and can cite numerous successes, including:

Burwood Plaza Shopping Center, once half-empty and boarded-up, now renovated, expanded and thriving;

Glen Burnie Mall, hurt by the loss of its Montgomery Ward anchor store, now a vital and exciting collection of new stores and restaurants;

Conversion of the long-empty Hechinger building into an attractive and convenient E-Z Storage facility;

These turnarounds did not happen spontaneously; a great deal of effort - and in many cases special legislation - went into each project.

There are more in the works: A vacant tire store will soon reopen as a state-of-the-art animal hospital, and as The Sun reported, Grayson Homes, by way of legislation I sponsored, will soon begin to redevelop the old Southview Shopping Center into a much-needed residential complex.

With redevelopment, we can put vacant and blighted properties to use without destroying additional trees and green space, and help to address the difficult issues of housing availability and affordability. Anne Arundel County has been at the forefront of this movement, and deserved more credit for it in your series.

Pamela G. Beidle


A simple blueprint for environment


An Environmental Eleven:

Here are 11 environmental topics candidates should discuss with Anne Arundel voters:

1. Have the House as well as the Senate confirm judges and the Public Service Commission. Confirm only judges who favor "standing" and oppose "taking" and commissioners who will keep Baltimore Gas & Electric rates down.

2. Transfer Inter-County Connector (the frankenroad in Montgomery County) money to the Woodlawn Line, the Bel Air Line, the Purple Line, and the Green Line extension to Laurel, Ft. Meade, Odenton and BWI.

3. Stop forcing liquefied natural gas tanks into poor neighborhoods. In Anne Arundel County, require the first three tanks to be built in downtown Crofton, Severna Park, and Annapolis.

4. Move quickly to buy up land adjacent to land already bought for Stoney Creek Regional Park. Developers have crept north across North Shore Drive. This effort has become urgent! Buy other north county parcels suitable for future parks: regional, neighborhood and linear.

5. Convert the "outer" 557 to 567 acres of the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm to the West County Regional Park. Convey the "inner" 200 to 300 acres to the Maryland Environmental Trust.

6. Finish Anne Arundel's Core Trail: Build the West County Trail-North, Odenton to BWI. Continue the West County Trail-South to Conway Road then east via Conway Road to Crofton. Complete the South Shore Trail east to Bestgate Road. Help Annapolis connect it to the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail.

7. Fund a "People's Counsel" to help citizens fight developers, BGE and other predators.

8. For social justice, provide a public boat ramp on each side of Anne Arundel's tidal rivers.

9. Repair sediment ponds and restore streams. Stop waivers on slopes, streams and roads.

10. Buy up more farmland development rights. Stop expanding water and sewer service for sprawl.

11. Don't sell developers water from public lands - don't encourage sprawl near parks.

James A. Hoage Severna Park

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