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Re-opening a can of worms; Anne Arundel: County Council should not be so hasty to reverse three actions of its predecessors.


IF THE ANNE Arundel County Council follows through on reopening a number of zoning issues, it should be aware of the possible consequences. Unless this process is undertaken with good reason, the council could create a regrettably chaotic atmosphere for policy-making.

A majority of the council seems disposed to overturn three controversial votes of recent years: an ordinance that protected a commercial wood-chipping business in a residential area; a zoning exception to allow a 60,000-seat auto racetrack in Pasadena; and a law permitting mixed-use development in Parole.

The first vote should be overturned; the second, perhaps; definitely not the third.

In the wood-chipping decision, then-councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. cast the deciding vote on a measure that would benefit his trash-hauling business. Mr. Redmond, who was defeated for re-election last fall, should not have participated, let alone decided the matter. Reconsidering the ordinance would rectify this wrong.

The former council's decision to bypass extensive hearings on the racetrack was also shortsighted. We noted so at the time. The change in process, however, wouldn't automatically change the outcome. A special exemption hearing could still result in the track's approval.

The most troubling action to reconsider would be the third -- the 1997 General Development Plan. Citizens and the council thoroughly reviewed and modified this plan. Planning connotes consistency and predictability. If the council reopens the plan on Parole, the growing commercial area outside Annapolis, pressure will build to reconsider other parts of the plan.

The county would have a planning process characterized not by order, but by political whim. This council, all new but for one returning member, would be doing the same thing it accuses its predecessors of doing.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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