Residents get good, bad growth news Development with eye on preservation called hard, but possible; Experts' report out today; Ideas spring from tour of southern county by international team


An international team of growth and development experts that has toured southern Anne Arundel County for the past week told residents last night that there is both good news and cause for concern for the area's future.

"You have a wonderful place here, and that's good news," said Gregory Federspiel, town administrator in Stowe, Vt., and an expert on land-use planning. "The other good news is that you can keep it a good place, but that is going to require some work."

The team of volunteers came to south Arundel from around the United States and Europe to give an outside perspective on how area residents can meld growth and development with historic and ecological preservation.

The team presented its findings last night to about 100 residents in a meeting room at the West River Methodist Camp.

The team began its presentation by quoting residents its eight members met in their week of studying south Arundel, a once-rural enclave that is being rapidly developed because of its proximity to Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington:

"We don't want to change, but we have to change."

"The new agricultural cash crop down here is new homes."

"What we need is a new direction. We are at a crossroads, but don't know which direction to turn."

Residents have been frustrated in recent years with urban sprawl and newly proposed subdivisions.

In the months before the team arrived, residents had compiled a list of questions they wanted the experts to address, including: How much growth is appropriate is south Arundel?

How can south Arundel keep the area's farms and commercial fisheries?

And how can south Arundel create and sustain a community identity?

The team's full report -- due out today -- will include some of its major suggestions. They include the appointment of a local board to track growth and development's impact on student-teacher ratios, aquifer water levels and population density.

"There is a constant fight between what we want and what we've got," said Tim de Kayzer, a coastal planning expert from England.

The group also will recommend that communities look for affordable pier space for watermen, open a seafood processing and marketing facility in Shady Side, create public recreation areas in southern Arundel and market the distinctive character of a rural area close to several cities.

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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