Limits on rural growth sought; Panel reviews plans to curb development; South County


Public water and sewer service would not be expanded in South Anne Arundel County. Property owners would be given incentives to protect agriculture and open space. And recreational facilities need to be built without disrupting the area's rural flavor.

These are some of the suggestions to control growth and development that the South County Small Area Planning Committee is considering.

Committee members began talking to residents in April and are drafting a development plan for the county.

"We've really heard that people want to keep South County rural," said Debi Osborne, the committee's chairwoman. "We have a very unique combination of small towns and rural resources."

The committee met this week to discuss the progress of its first draft of the plan and suggestions for the development of Waysons Corner. The next meeting, which is open to the public, will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 at Southern High School.

"It's still a working plan," Osborne said. "We're still looking at design guidelines and residential zoning issues."

The first meeting of the year also will include further discussion of Waysons Corner, which, many committee members say, is the only area for commercial development in South County. The architectural firm of Rhadeside and Harwell, which the county has hired, presented suggestions for redeveloping the area where Routes 4 and 408 meet during Tuesday's meeting.

The committee, which is made up of 17 residents and business owners, is one of 16 in the county created by County Executive Janet S. Owens to draw up a development blueprint to guide land-use and zoning policies in the area. The plan will go through several revisions before being presented to the Anne Arundel County Council and the county's planning and advisory board.

South County committee members are divided into three groups focusing on environmental issues, economic development, and land use and zoning. The environment subcommittee determined that residential and commercial growth should be limited to areas with adequate or planned roads.

It also recommended that the area's natural resources be protected and community facilities, such as senior centers and recreational centers, be improved.

The economic development subcommittee looked for ways to implement policies and programs to strengthen the area's rural economy, including agriculture initiatives. The group also identified home-based businesses as crucial to keeping South County residential and recommended that they be protected.

The land-use and zoning subcommittee recommended that residential-agricultural zoning, which is one unit per 20 acres, be protected and that the area not become a focus for development. Agricultural preservation should also be a concern, it said.

"It's so important to keep farming viable in South County," Osborne said.

Vivian Marsh, a long-range planner for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement, said he will circulate the committee's rough draft through his department for more comments. The committee will then have time to revise the plan before a public forum in May.

The final report will be presented to the county by July.

During the interim, the committee will review the rough draft and may hold subcommittee meetings, Osborne said.

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