When former County Executive Steve Schuh launched the Citizen Advisory Committee in October 2018 to help guide the General Development Plan, members ranged from a marina owner to a stay-at-home mom who led a homeowners association. Current County Executive Steuart Pittman decided to reorganize the committee to make it more neighborhood-focused, and the new group will get to work with a day-long public kickoff workshop at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Annapolis (210 Holiday Court) on April 13 from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
The former committee, which met twice monthly during the fall and early winter, included 17 members. The new CAC has 18 Small Area representatives and five at-large members, including two developers and a student.
“Our new CAC has community representatives from each of the county’s former 16 Small Areas, and none are people whose livelihoods depend on developing land,” Pittman said in a statement. “Instead, we selected people capable of bringing their neighbors together to get engaged in the process. Developers and environmental advocates have at-large seats to ensure that their voices are heard, and we are bringing in outside experts who know best practices in smart growth planning.”
Allan Straughan served on the last CAC and will represent Lake Shore on the new committee. Among other issues, he is focused on the environment, traffic and emergency services.
“We have a lot of peninsulas with one way in and one way out,” Straughan said. “In times of emergency, there are people who could get choked off, most notably on Fort Smallwood Road. It can happen very quickly. An accident blocks the roadway and someone has a heart attack on Bodkin Creek, and there’s no way to get someone help.”
Straughan would also like to see the county redevelop areas in a way that improves tax revenue, expand the radius for notifying communities about zoning hearings, and limit the number of variances granted to developers.
“It doesn’t matter if there are 15 gas stations and three CVS stores; a property will be viewed as a commercially viable piece of land,” he said. “It’s high-density residential and it should stay high-density residential, because that’s what the plan says.”
John Clark will represent Pasadena and Marley Neck, bringing with him a long career of community service. Clark has been with the Lake Shore-Severna Rotary Club since 2004, the Pasadena Business Association since 2005, the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, since 2005, Venice Civic Association since 2007 and Magothy Health Association since 2015.
Following the kickoff meeting in April, Pittman’s administration plans to host outreach sessions in May with the assistance of nonprofit organization Smart Growth America.
The new proposed timeline estimates that the General Development Plan would be introduced to the county council in the spring of 2020. After adoption of the GDP, the administration will initiate the comprehensive zoning process. The administration plans to consider comprehensive zoning legislation on a community scale, similar to the former Small Area Plan districts, beginning in July 2020.
More information about the Citizens Advisory Committee and the strategy and timeline for the General Development Plan can be found here. CAC meetings will held on the first and third Wednesday of each month, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in the Chesapeake Room of the Heritage Center at 2664 Riva Road in Annapolis.
“The new Citizens Advisory Committee is more diverse, represents more communities and is intended to foster greater collaboration among all stakeholders,” said Phil Hager, Planning and Zoning officer. “We welcome the addition of more public participation and believe this will result in a stronger General Development Plan.”