© 2017 by Alliance for Livable Communities.

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Op Eds 2016 - 2017

Albert Tucker: Planning process gives us a chance to safeguard our real property rights

By Albert Tucker                   November 26, 2017

In a stunning assault on common sense and clear legal precedent, Anne Arundel County land-use policies are being perverted by either a misunderstanding or a deliberate misrepresentation of what property rights actually mean.

Property ownership comes with many rights, and zoning laws protect these rights. These laws establish restrictions on how a particular property can be used. Some see these laws as a violation of their right to the use of the property. The General Development Plan represents consensus on what the property rights of the community at large should be. These common rights are only protected when the GDP guidance is enacted in zoning laws and regulations.

Bob Gallagher: Without enforcement, General Development Plan is meaningless

By Bob Gallagher                   November 12, 2017

About a year ago, a group of concerned citizens met with senior county officials. The discussion touched on a variety of zoning issues, including the county’s plans for updating the General Development Plan. During the meeting, the county officials distributed a handout that indicated the GDP was “merely advisory.” They meant that county officials are free to make zoning decisions inconsistent with the GDP should they choose to do so.

The GDP is intended to reflect the consensus of an informed and engaged public as to how it wants its county to grow. The idea that county officials are free to disregard the GDP has been clearly rejected by the General Assembly. Yet some public officials continue to insist they have the right to ignore the will of the public.

Jim Lyons: Let’s ensure that citizen participation in the planning process matters

By Jim Lyons                   October 22, 2017

The pending update to the General Development Plan provides an opportunity for citizens to be a part of planning a better future. In fact, maybe we should start referring to the GDP as a “quality of life plan” to reflect its importance our future.

Citizen participation is critical. But experience with prior planning causes many people to doubt if our input really matters. What happened in my own community of Edgewater and Mayo illustrates why I am concerned.

Paul Christensen: Let's not fall for the myth of endless growth in Anne Arundel County

By Paul Christensen                   October 15, 2017

We have begun the process to choose our future. This is a very big deal.

What kind of a future do you want? More of the same: dirty water, long commutes, poorly maintained schools, inadequate public safety response times?

The guiding philosophy for decades has hinged on a belief that we can grow ourselves to an improved quality of life. If we are to make wise choices about our future, it’s time to examine the growth question. Is endless growth achievable, sustainable and, most important, does it produce the quality of life most residents seek?

County Councilman Chris Trumbauer: Planning is ultimately about people — who must have a say in the process

By Chris Trumbauer                      October 8, 2017

Nobody wants to be stuck in constant traffic backups, or find out that an undesirable industrial complex is popping up next to their peaceful residential neighborhood. No parent wants their children attending class in overcrowded buildings with portable classrooms sprawling across school property.

The way to avoid these situations is to plan ahead — 10 to 20 years ahead. Good planning prevents these situations; bad planning worsens them.

Philip R. Hager: Safeguards for our quality of life will be part of next development plan

By Philip R. Hager                     October 1, 2017

Anne Arundel County is a beautiful place to live, work and start a business. We have 530 miles of beautiful shoreline, great schools and an incredible quality of life that is the envy of other jurisdictions in Maryland. But despite these assets, we continue to face the challenges of any large, growing jurisdiction: traffic, development and ensuring the preservation of our natural beauty.

Our shared goal as a jurisdiction as we face these challenges must be to ensure we have the essential infrastructure and safeguards needed to protect our quality of life from external pressures. Those safeguards will be incorporated in Anne Arundel County’s next General Development Plan, or GDP, a comprehensive guide to land use that will allow us to capitalize on our assets and conserve our resources. Right now, the Office of Planning and Zoning is undertaking an effort to educate citizens about this important planning process and how they can be involved.

Ann M. Fligsten: Let's come together to get the most from the planning process

By Ann M. Fligsten                      September 24, 2017

Don’t rely on others to plan for your future. This is your opportunity to attend meetings and contribute your vision for a better way forward! 

Richard J. Falk: Citizen impact on land-use policy is working

By Richard J. Falk                       August 30, 2017

The Anne Arundel County Council recently defeated an agritourism bill that, it was claimed, was designed to support the viability of the county agricultural economy.

The measure failed largely because of pressure exerted on the council by a consortium of residents with community, environmental and agriculture interests. By way of well-reasoned analyses, they demonstrated that the bill was badly flawed and, if enacted, would actually damage those it purported to assist.

Successful collaborations are becoming increasingly common in Anne Arundel County as residents organize, do their homework and speak up.

$50K proposed to launch county's General Development Plan process

By Amanda Yeager                        June 8, 2017

A month after Anne Arundel County Council members asked the county to jump-start its review of the General Development Plan, County Executive Steve Schuh has offered to set aside money for that purpose.

Schuh announced Thursday that he wants to earmark $50,000 in fiscal year 2018 to gear up for the GDP process, a periodic update of the county's master plan guiding growth and development. The county executive said the money would be part of a supplemental budget his administration plans to introduce to the council on Friday.

Scott MacMullan: We need to get moving on key county plan

By Scott MacMullan                       May 4, 2017

An update of the county's General Development Plan is needed and is needed ASAP.

The GDP establishes policies and recommendations to guide decisions about growth and development, land preservation, resource protection and the provision of infrastructure and services.

As the county's population has grown through the years, problems have bubbled up: traffic congestion, overdevelopment and impaired water quality in creeks and rivers due in part to impervious surfaces. We need a comprehensive plan, not more patchwork legislation, which seems to be how we have gotten by recently. Anne Arundel County deserves better.

By Jon Korin                       May 3, 2017

With the nicer weather, there are increasing numbers of riders out on our trails and roads. Some ride for recreation while others bike for transportation as a lifestyle choice — for health, the environment, to save money and, in many cases, to save time. For still, others it is their only affordable transportation option. Additionally, millennials tend to seek active transportation alternatives to driving everywhere by car.

As a result, biking benefits all Anne Arundel County residents and there are actions we can each take to help.

Next GDP will be crucial for county

By Bob Gallagher                      December 28, 2016

A few years ago an Anne Arundel county councilman proposed changing the zoning of a property to increase density – "up-zoning." I objected because the change was contrary to the will of local residents as expressed in the General Development Plan, the end product of a multiyear effort to capture the wishes of county residents for future development. The councilman replied that he had not approved the GDP; it had been approved by the previous County Council.

The councilman's response reflects an attitude toward development too common among elected officials. They believe that growth is inevitable and necessary and that the county executive and council should have the ultimate authority to decide what development is best for their constituents. Their views are influenced by the facts that development produces more revenue for them to spend and that developers are the most generous group of campaign donors.