The Anne Arundel County Council voted 6-1 Monday night in favor of re-upping the Adequate Public Facilities’ restrictions on certain kinds of development in order to keep public schools from becoming overcrowded.
Council member Sarah Lacey, D-Jessup, was the only one to vote in opposition of the bill.
This was done as the current bill relating to the issue was about to sunset. However, representatives from County Executive Steuart Pittman’s administration said it is just a temporary guideline until the council has a chance to discuss how to better modify the bill for the upcoming year.
“The administration understands our school [Adequate Public Facilities] needs reform, which is why we have our work group. The purpose of this bill is to maintain the so-called status quo until the work group is done with their work and ready to move forward in a more comprehensive manner,” said Peter Baron, director of government relations for the county executive’s office.
The bill does, however, include an amendment providing developers a chance to get around the rules in exchange for donating land to the Board of Education for future construction.
The council members, with the exception of Lacey again, also all voted in favor of a bill to exempt the Glen Burnie Sustainable Community area from the building limit enforced by the Adequate Public Facilities ordinance. The aim of the bill is to allow for redevelopment in the old areas in that part of Glen Burnie.
“The hope is to encourage the redevelopment of underutilized properties along key commercial corridors,” said Allison Pickard, D-Glen Burnie, the bill’s sponsor. “If we get lucky in Anne Arundel County and opportunity meets preparation, then our county code will acknowledge for redevelopment projects’ need. This is another carrot to incentivize the private sector to reach out to the Glen Burnie area.”
Baron voiced support for the bill on behalf of the county executive’s administration.
“The amended bill takes a calculated and narrow approach to incentivize private redevelopment in an area that needs it and we support the bill,” he said.
On the opposing side, Lacey said the bill was too specific for her to get behind, noting she voted in favor of a bill that passed last session that will allow this exemption for all transit-oriented areas that fit certain criteria.
“Unfortunately, I can’t support this bill,” Lacey said, adding that the effected area would largely be from her district. “I just don’t think this is a productive use of our time when really the main driver of the vacancy doesn’t have to do with housing and doesn’t have to do with transit-oriented development. There are a lot of other factors that go into a commercial landlord’s decision-making process. I just don’t think this little bit is going to make a difference.”
Another bill was discussed that would allow the recently added Anne Arundel public high school student on the Human Relations Commission to become a voting member and would add an extra member to the commission in order to keep the body at an odd number of members to avoid tie votes.
“This change comes as a request of the commission,” Baron said. “The addition of a student member will bring the voting members to 12, which was an even number, so to keep it at an odd number the bill also adds the executive director of [Arundel Community Development Services Inc.] as a voting member of the commission.”
The council voted unanimously in support of an amendment to the bill that will allow the executive director to chose to either be that representative or to delegate the position to a colleague in the organization. The addition was made as the organization’s current executive director and founder, Kathleen Koch, will retire at the end of the month, leaving the nonprofit in a state of transition.
“We haven’t named a new executive director so we don’t know how they will feel, but one thing is clear: There are a number of folks at ACDS with a lot of expertise that they could bring to the table. So, since we are naming a title here, the executive director, it would be wise to allow them to designate somebody, especially as they’re bringing on a new executive director,” Baron said.
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The council also voted unanimously to elect Lisa Brannigan Rodvien, D-Annapolis, as chair after Lacey’s term had ended. Rodvien served as vice chair this term, a role that will now be held by Andrew Pruski, D-Gambrills.