The state administration's proposed controls on development spell trouble for Anne Arundel and Annapolis, county and city officials say.
The statewide controls, designed to curb suburban sprawl, fail to address the decline of cities like Annapolis, said City AdministratorMichael Mallinoff.
"The city of Annapolis is suffering because of unrestricted growth surrounding Annapolis," Mallinoff told Anne Arundel's state lawmakers Wednesday night. "The 2020 bill legitimizes and encourages sprawl like Parole."
The proposed Maryland Growth and Chesapeake Bay Act,also known as 2020 legislation, would direct development into designated growth areas and away from rural and environmentally sensitive lands, said Edwin Thomas, a planner with the state Office of Planning. Over the next 30 years, it would preserve 300,000 acres, saving local governments about $1.2 billion on schools, roads and other services, he said.
Ironically, the 2020 bill could do just the opposite in Anne Arundel, said Kathleen Koch, an assistant county planning and zoning officer.
The bill would block intense development in long-planned county growth areas, targeting it instead on sensitive waterfront property, Koch said.
Under the 2020 bill, massive developmentslike the 4,700-home Seven Oaks subdivision planned for Odenton wouldbe excluded from the new growth areas because the developer rather than the county is installing sewer and water, Koch said.
But, because the county plans to install sewers to "traditional summer cottage" communities along several sensitive North County creeks, those areas would be targeted for growth, Koch said.
County lawmakers heardfour hours of debate Wednesday night. But the fate of the controversial 2020 legislation will be decided in House and Senate environmental committees.
Anne Arundel and city officials joined a chorus of critics, who asked the county delegation Wednesday night to lobby to amend the 2020 controls. Others, including the Anne Arundel Trade Council and Board of Realtors, expressed support for the principlesbehindthe bill, but want lawmakers to delay passage allowing them a chanceto study further how the law would work.
Several environmental advocates hailed the legislation and pressed the delegation for its support.
"Every obstacle that can be placed in front of sprawl, should be," said Arnold resident Earl Jones, who added that he fled the urban spread of his native San Diego.
County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, said Anne Arundel County has tried to control growthwithin its border, but met with only limited success.
"It's really difficult for a council to control growth," said Lamb, who presented amendments requested by the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO). "Anne Arundel County can pass laws and be as strict as it wants to be, but that doesn't do a thing for Howard County."
MACO wants more flexibility for individual counties to design their own growth controls and more state money for roads, schools, libraries and other services the counties will need, Lamb said.
Jeff Griffith, a South County farmer, said the bill could put farmers out of business. The bill would strictly limit development on agricultural land, lowering theproperty value of their land. Farmers rely on rising land values to finance their operations, he said.
Among other pending legislation:
* Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville, proposed a bill requiring the school board to place copies of its sex education textbooks in community libraries. Parents have complained they don't know what the schools are teaching, Gary said.
* A bill introduced by Delegate Elizabeth Smith, R-Davidsonville, would require acupuncturists to receive professional licenses from the state.