On AA-Calvert Border, Regional Vision Needed

We hear so much about growth management and "smart growth." But with strip malls and shopping centers still popping up like toadstools in the flower garden, it's hard to know where sloganeering stops and action begins.

One of the newest plans, unveiled for Southern Anne Arundel near the Calvert border, will be a test case for the political will of our elected officials to make good on their promises to control growth. The proposed development also will offer the opportunity for counties to work together, or at least listen to one another, on quality of life issues.

The proposed development is situated on the south side of Rt. 260 just west of Rt. 2. The developers, Wayson Land Holdings Limited Partnership, intend to turn a cornfield into your basic pharmacy-bank-restaurant-office space-service station-car wash complex. First they must get a zoning change for the 11 acres from Anne Arundel County.

In next door Calvert County, the development is not warmly received. Many local residents and two of five Calvert commissioners oppose the project.

Driving down Rt. 2-4, you may wonder about the legitimacy of Calvert County's complaints. Especially around Prince Frederick, Calvert offers a living legacy of unsightly commercial development. Might this be a case of attempting to close the barn door long after the horses have galloped away?

Possibly, but Calvert planners claim they're working with the people to preserve their rural legacy. The county, to its credit, has been working to locate new businesses in zones, redundantly called town centers, that already are commercial. The fear about the Wayson plan is that it will create traffic congestion and worsen sprawl. Critics say that residents would be better served if the development were concentrated in the Owings town center near the proposed development.

The ruckus over the project delayed a hearing on the zoning change that was scheduled in Annapolis this week. That's good. Developers, residents and officials in both counties will have more time to consider a scheme that may not be the best for the region. The developers have not backed off. But to their credit, they have signaled a willingness to talk.

For a change, perhaps people will talk about what's best for the region and not just for one slice of it. For too long, our environment and our quality of life along the Chesapeake Bay has been diminished by planners and profiteers who see the world narrowly.

It is past time for people to look at Chesapeake Country as a community of interests rather than a disconnected string of competitors.

| Issue 27 |

Volume VII Number 27
July 8-14, 1999
New Bay Times

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