Shortly after taking office, County Executive Steuart Pittman implemented Visioning Anne Arundel, a series of small area meetings to get public input for the upcoming General Development Plan.
There were 17 small area meetings from April through June. The meetings allowed community members to prioritize remaining recommendations from the Small Area Plan and 2009 GDP looking toward 2040.
“The biggest takeaway that I got from [Visioning Anne Arundel] is that no one who was in those meetings wants to see new developments in Pasadena that do not make sense for this community,” said Nathan Volke, District 3 councilman.
Volke highlighted areas in Pasadena that can be redeveloped before starting new development projects.
“We need to go back in those areas and look at how they were developed originally, and does the development still make sense for that area, or do we need to do something differently,” Volke said.
One of Pittman’s priorities is providing affordable workforce housing. On July 1, the Anne Arundel County Council passed Bill 54-19, which established incentives for developers to create affordable housing. According to Pittman, the affordable housing is aimed toward the new hires coming to the county, as well as for young people starting their careers and seniors who want to age in place.
He highlighted allowing a higher density around transportation networks — trains stations, the airport — to allow them to be mixed use areas.
“By having these mixed-use, smart-growth and transit-oriented developments, we maintain open space, we get cars off the road and we continue to have a tax base that helps to pay for the needs that we have in our community,” Pittman said.
Though Volke heard similar concerns from constituents during Visioning Anne Arundel that he heard during his campaign, the need for sidewalks surprised him.
“If we’re able to invest in more sidewalks along the roads, that right there could give some of that walkability to people,” Volke said.
Pittman plans to submit the GDP in the spring of 2020. The Citizens Advisory Committee is currently reviewing information gathered from the Visioning Anne Arundel meetings, and the representative from each small area will be responsible for knowing what those communities are saying to represent it in the process, Pittman said.
The new plan will be refined during a phase of drafts and revisions through the end of the year, according to a timeline on the county’s website. The public forum and online comment period will open in December, and after going through more revisions, the county council will hold public hearings in April and May of 2020.
The public input collected at the Visioning Anne Arundel meetings will serve as one of the many factors when deciding on county-wide priorities.
“There are community interests that can be parochial sometimes, and then there are county-wide interests. That’s why these representatives get together,” Pittman said. “They have to decide as a group what the countywide interests are, as well. I hope they buy into smart growth principles, transit-oriented principles, and acknowledge that we have a looming crisis in workforce housing that our chamber of commerce and others have been warning us about for years.”