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Anne Arundel County releases draft of 20-year land use plan; residents have 45 days to comment

Planning and Zoning Officer Steve Kaii-Ziegler shares a preliminary draft of Anne Arundel County's 20-year land use plan. He is joined outside Brooklyn Park Library with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Land Use Lori Rhodes and County Executive Steuart Pittman.
Planning and Zoning Officer Steve Kaii-Ziegler shares a preliminary draft of Anne Arundel County's 20-year land use plan. He is joined outside Brooklyn Park Library with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Land Use Lori Rhodes and County Executive Steuart Pittman. (Olivia Sanchez)

Anne Arundel County’s 20-year plan for land use and development will prioritize the environment, revitalization, transit-oriented growth, and, once approved, will spur nine small area plans with localized implementation groups to ensure the vision manifests throughout the county, County Executive Steuart Pittman said Wednesday while unveiling the plan.

The plan addresses many aspects of life in Anne Arundel County, including environment, land use, housing, transportation, schools, recreation and parks, public safety, and economic development. Still, it is only a plan until approved as legislation by the County Council. Residents have 45 days to provide comments on the General Development Plan draft.

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Pittman said this plan would differ from the past versions because he plans to be diligent about implementation.

“Anne Arundel County residents don’t trust land use plans,” said County Executive Pittman. “We’ve had good ones before that got ignored — by developers, politicians, and bureaucrats. The key to this plan is that it requires implementation, implementation with a huge dose of additional community engagement.”

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The GDP’s initial timeline was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic — in the early months, Planning and Zoning Officer Steve Kaii-Ziegler worried that without in-person meetings, they would be unable to meaningfully engage the public in the process.

Before the virus began spreading in Anne Arundel County, officials held about 20 community meetings with roughly 3,000 residents to inform the planning process. Instead of attending community meetings through the final phase of the process, residents can peruse the themes, specific goals, and scroll around the county’s maps, Pittman said.

They pivoted in early August, launching an online tool that allowed residents to view preliminary parts of the draft and provide comments.

Now that the full draft is available to the public, it can be downloaded from the county website, where residents can also provide comments. Anyone without internet access can view a paper copy of the plan at any county libraries, which are open by appointment only. Residents have until Nov. 15 to comment on the draft.

Following the 45 day comment period, officials will review feedback, and the Planning Advisory Board will schedule public hearings. The plan is expected to be introduced to the council in February, with public hearings likely in March.

Officials noted the Wednesday morning press conference announcing the draft was only the beginning of a long process. Even after the council approves the plan, they will begin the process of implementing it and developing the nine small area plans. Each small area plan will be driven by an advisory committee and an implementation committee, for which they plan to solicit applications from community groups.

To ensure the committee members accurately represent the communities' diversity, Pittman said they are planning to enlist the newly formed Commission on Immigrants Affairs and the local racial justice advocacy groups.

Kate Fritz, the chair of the County’s Citizens Environmental Commission and executive director of Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, encouraged residents to consider weighing in or joining a committee to contribute to the planning effort.

“When residents are involved in their local planning efforts, the outcome leads to more equitable and sustainable communities for the future,” she said. “I encourage every resident to use their voice and get involved with collectively creating a bright and equitable future for all residents of Anne Arundel County.”

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