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Ardath Cade says her challenge as the county's new planning and zoning officer will be to balance the county's continuing growth with environmental and affordable housing concerns.

"You can't be just environmentally concerned, you can't be just developmentally concerned, you can't just be concerned with affordable housing," said Cade, tapped last week by County Executive Robert R. Neall as the new head of the county Office of Planning and Zoning. "You have have to do it in abalance where they are complementary, not contradictory."

Neall announced over the Labor Day weekend that Cade, the deputy secretary for the state Department of Housing and Community Development, will replace acting Planning and Zoning Officer Owen White in mid-October. White has served as acting planning officer since Thomas Osborne resigned two years ago.

Neall spokesman Louise Hayman said Cade's planning office will become the county's lead environmental agency, coordinating with other county divisions such as the Department of Public Works and Department of Inspections and Permits.

Neall, whose transition team was critical of the planning office in a reportlast spring, wants the agency to become "more of a growth managementforce in the county," Hayman said.

"It's also critical that we domore about affordable housing in the community. The federal government isn't going to be involved in that anymore, so it's got to be a local government initiative."

Neall said, in a press release last week, "Ardath Cade's strengths are my priorities. Her experience with housing, economic and community development, redevelopment and arts and cultural programs will be invaluable."

Cade, the wife of Senate Minority Leader John Cade, R-Severna Park, has served as deputy secretary of housing and community development since that department was created in 1987. Earlier, she was an assistant state secretary of economic and community development and a special assistant to Gov. Blair Lee III.

She has served on the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission since its creation in 1984 and was a member of the Anne ArundelCounty Affordable Housing Task Force, which reported to the county executive in 1990.

Yesterday, Cade declined to discuss any specificchanges being considered in the planning office. "I don't have any magic agenda," she said. "I've got great admiration for the county executive. He's very clear headed, very bright and he has a vision for Anne Arundel County that I would like to help him accomplish."

Whatis that vision?

"I think there is a real commitment by the countyexecutive to the environment, balanced out by a desire for a consistent pattern of continuous growth in the community," Cade said. "Also,I think there is growing recognition that many young people and people in service jobs, which make up many of the jobs in Anne Arundel County, cannot afford to buy and sometimes even rent housing in the county. We need to devise a means of ensuring a broad range of housing is available."

More attention must be paid to the county's older communities, Cade said. "We have to ensure that the older Main Streets stay viable at the same time we are planning town centers like Parole. They serve different purposes anyway. The older neighborhood centers are a common gathering place as well as commercial centers. They serve more immediate needs in the community."

After Neall's electionlast year, the executive asked White to remain as acting planning officer. "Owen has very capably steered the planning office, but it wasexpected the department would take a new direction," Hayman said.

Last week, before Cade's appointment, White, who has worked 35 yearsin the planning office, outlined some new directions the department was already taking, including a greater emphasis on small area plans and a subdivision review team to better coordinate between county agencies.

"I've had a very good discussion with Ardath Cade and she'll probably have her own agendas when she comes on board," White said yesterday. "But I suspect some of these initiatives will be hers as well."

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