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Comment invited on panel proposal Small area committee seeks more schools, overpass for Route 3


Crofton would gain a main street, more schools and an overpass over Route 3 if recommendations made by a Small Area Planning Committee pass public inspection and are drafted into the county's general development plan.

Residents have the opportunity to look over the draft plan recommendations -- a blueprint for the future of the area -- and to write comments between 4: 30 p.m. and 8 p.m. today at a public forum at Crofton Middle School. The comments will guide revisions to the plan before it is sent to the County Planning Advisory Board for review and eventually to the County Council. The Crofton area is bounded by the Little Patuxent River, Route 3, U.S. 50 and the North River.

The recommendations include new elementary and high schools, upgrading Davidsonville Road and Defense Highway, and opening up additional commercial space along Route 3 and at Staples Corner.

"We would like to keep the green belt," rural land south of Defense Highway, said David Espie, chairman of the Small Area Planning Committee. "At the same time, we're trying to upgrade. We're not looking to make drastic changes. We're there to enhance the spirit of the community."

Key features of the proposed plan include: Making Davidsonville Road, the thruway that splits northern and southern areas of Crofton, into a "Main Street." Committee members recommend narrowing the road and adding traffic circles at Defense Highway, Underwood Road and Riedel Road to slow traffic. The plan would also add a hiking and biking path from Route 3 to Bell Branch Park below the Defense Highway intersection.

Creating an overpass near the Crofton gateway at Route 3 to link residents to businesses across the busy thruway. The plan would also slightly expand commercial zoning on both sides of Route 3 where the overpass is proposed.

Using remaining land around Crofton Middle School to build a high school to serve the growing population in western Anne Arundel. The plan also calls for a North Crofton elementary school on a parcel along Nantucket Drive off the north end of Riedel Road to be built concurrently with new subdivisions. The schools would keep Crofton students within the neighborhood through graduation.

Creating a community center with services for senior citizens and indoor recreation, including an Olympic-size pool, on a 17-acre parcel along Riedel and Davidsonville roads. A new Crofton library is already slated to be built on that land.

Widening Defense Highway to up to five lanes with sidewalks in the commercial areas of Priest Bridge, near Route 3, and Staples Corner at Davidsonville Road. The plan also calls for upgrades to Defense Highway to keep the road from flooding during heavy rains. A small area at Staples Corner would be rezoned for light commercial use to increase the potential for better commercial development.

Creating a Crofton growth management area, bounded by Route 3, Defense Highway and Underwood Road. A growth management committee, composed of residents, would represent the interests of the community.

In today's forum, residents will form small groups and discuss the plan with a committee member. Planning officials are asking participants to submit written comments on the committee's recommendations for land use, economic development, education and transportation.

Participants will be given a packet containing the recommendations and are asked to return written comments within 30 days.

The Crofton plan is one of six that committees around the county are producing. More committees will begin the process next year. Planners will consider the recommendations of each plan during the countywide rezoning that will begin next year.

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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