November 23, 2017
Community
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  • At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
    At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
  • At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
    At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
  • At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
    At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
  • At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
    At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
  • At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.
    At recent listening sessions, attendees were surveyed on what they would prioritize in the General Development Plan regarding development, the environment, the economy and community health. The General Development Plan will guide the county’s use of land, capitalization of assets and conservation of critical resources for the next 20 years.

Listening Sessions Solicit Citizen Input For General Development Plan

Dylan Roche
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November 10, 2017

How Do Anne Arundel’s Residents Envision The County 20 Years From Now?

When people think about planning for the future, they might think about career goals, health goals or family goals. They might consider how they could retire earlier, quit smoking or have another baby.

But what about their community goals? When people look around at the area they call home, do they have an idea of what they want it to look like in five, 10 or even 20 years?

As Anne Arundel County begins the process to form its General Development Plan (GDP) — which is formed roughly every 10 years but conceived to shape a course for the next 20 years — representatives from the Office of Planning and Zoning have sought input from citizens on their concerns and priorities at a series of eight listening sessions — scheduled once or twice a month through February 2018 at various locations around the county — with the intention of figuring out how to guide land use, capitalize on assets and conserve critical resources.

At the listening sessions, one message in particular has been clear. “The people are concerned with the amount and the rate of residential development,” said Phil Hagar, officer of Planning and Zoning.

Thus far, two listening sessions have been held, first at North County High and then at Broadneck High, both drawing attendees from far beyond their immediate communities.

Although the GDP, which will ultimately be adopted by the county council in 2020, might address land use, water resources, transportation, community facilities and many other issues, some residents see all those components tracing back to the root issue of overdevelopment and overpopulation.

“As you sit in traffic on Mountain Road, Ritchie Highway and College Parkway, consider this: If you don’t build them, they will not come,” said Paul Spadaro, a resident of Anne Arundel County since 1979 and the president of the Magothy River Association. “One of the problems we face in this county is that even the best hotel eventually has to put up a ‘No Vacancy’ sign, and we’re at that point. We have an opportunity in the next few months to have our say, and we deserve our say. We have a say who we share our living room with. Not the county, not the developers, but we in this room. If we want to preserve our quality of life, we must exercise our say and insist that we are pretty much done with development.”

In addition to the chance to speak, attendees at the listening sessions cast their votes for what they consider to be the three priorities for the GDP in areas such as building, the environment, the economy and community health.

Hagar said the one downside of conducting these surveys via public meetings is that they lose input from part of the population. “One thing we know already that we’re lacking is people from the younger component of the population,” he said. “We have great participation from those in the middle bracket and those in the older bracket, but no younger people. It’s important that we have them because they represent the future, and the plan is about the future.”

To accommodate younger citizens, who Hagar noted “tend to be more likely to participate if something is in electronic media,” the survey is available at www.aacounty.org/departments/planning-and-zoning. Select “Plan 2040: Updating the GDP” under “In The Spotlight,” and then click “Plan 2040 Kickoff Survey” on the right-hand side. “The goal is to get the broadest sampling possible, to reach as many people as possible,” Hagar said.

Not all county residents feel as enthused about giving input. Henry Schmidt, an 87-year-old lifelong resident of Pasadena, expressed disinterest in attending any of the listening sessions because of his experience helping the county develop Small Area Plans in the past under a prior administration. “We made recommendations, and they never followed any of them,” he said. “We were sort of disillusioned. The county went and did what they wanted, and not what we suggested. I felt like I wasted my time.”

Upcoming listening sessions will be held on November 30 at Old Mill High School, December 11 at Arundel High School, January 11 at Annapolis High School, January 29 at Northeast High School, February 8 at Southern High School and February 22 at Brooklyn Park High School. All sessions are from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

The process will continue throughout 2018 and 2019 before going to the county council at the end of 2019. “This is a comprehensive plan; it’s an involved process and there’s a lot that goes into these things,” Hagar said. “This is the opportunity for people to get their comments in. The General Development Plan engagement process provides an opportunity for people to participate in the overall development process and share what’s on their mind and the things they care about. That helps shape the direction for the future.”


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