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County Executive Steve Schuh Signs Smart Growth Initiatives Into Law

​(Schuh with community leaders Phil Reeder, Tom Gardner, Kim Burns, Tim Walters, and Nathan Volke)
​(Schuh with community leaders Phil Reeder, Tom Gardner, Kim Burns, Tim Walters, and Nathan Volke)

Annapolis, MD (May 17, 2018) –County Executive Steve Schuh today signed legislation that will make Anne Arundel County a model for responsible, measured growth.

“We must ensure we preserve the character of our communities by instituting measures to combat the forces of development,” said Schuh. “These new smart growth reforms will secure an open, transparent, and responsible process for future generations.”

The responsible growth initiatives signed by the County Executive include:

  • Bill 17-18 imposes a zoning freeze in Anne Anne Arundel County, which is a moratorium on the Planning and Zoning Officer from accepting applications for rezonings in all zoning districts until the General Development Plan is drafted and submitted to the Planning Advisory Board or January 1, 2020, whichever comes first. On May 7th, this bill passed 7-0.
     
  • Bill 19-18 increases the transparency for Administrative Hearings by increasing the physical distance for notification of a pending administrative hearing. The present code provisions require notice to properties within a 175 foot radius of the subject property. The bill increases that distance to 300 feet. Additionally, this proposal requires that all confronting and adjoining properties receive notice, regardless of distance, and if the 300 foot distance provision fails to provide notice to all confronting and adjoining property owners within a 300 foot radius, then all property owners whose property confront or adjoin those that are adjoining shall receive notice. On May 7th, this bill passed 7-0.
     
  • Bill 21-18 requires the upcoming General Development Plan and all future GDPs to provide for the preparation, development and adoption of no less than 7 small area plans. The total number of plans, their geographical composition, their content, and schedule for completion shall be determined by the GDP currently under development, as well as each future GDP. The bill also provides for citizen-based planning committees consisting of no fewer than 9 members for each small area plan. The small area plans are intended to be consistent with the adopted GDP and are expected to form the basis for the proposed. recommendations of the next GDP. On May 7th, this bill passed 7-0.
     
  • Bill 27-18 changes some of the processes associated with reviewing and considering requests for authorization of modifications. When implemented, an applicant seeking a modification would be required to submit written verification that attests to the fact that the proposed modification was disclosed and discussed at a community meeting or that all property owners within 300 feet of the affected property were mailed a meeting notice and a copy of the request for modification. Additionally, there will be a 15-day waiting period between the time that the written verification is submitted and the modification is considered by the Planning & Zoning Officer.  This time period will allow interested parties to advocate in support or opposition to the requested modification. This bill will increase transparency of the modification process and promote ongoing efforts to ensure there are appropriate opportunities for public engagement. This bill also eliminates the ability to modify a public meeting. On May 7th, this bill passed 7-0.
     
  • Bill 28-18 affects the manner in which requests for time extensions for Subdivision and Site Development Plans may be considered.  This bill allows the Office of Planning & Zoning to grant a non-prejudicial time extension of 180 days for Subdivision Sketch Plan re-submittals, Final Plan re-submittal, and Site Development Plan re-submittals. Further, it allows a second time extension of 120 days for re-submittal of any of the previously listed re-submittals. Finally, it allows a third and final time extension of 60 days for re-submittal of any of the previously listed re-submittals. After the third extension, if the applicant still wishes to pursue the project, he or she would need to re-initiate project review from the beginning, or seek a modification that would require demonstration of good cause and an approval rationale other than financial. This bill will save time for review staff and prevent applicants from applying for seemingly endless extensions and stop individual developers from tying up infrastructure resources unless they are truly ready to pursue project development. On May 7th, this bill passed 7-0. 

The Office of Planning and Zoning has also sponsored an extensive schedule of public comment sessions that provide the citizens a significant opportunity to have their voice heard as county government embarks on the 18-month General Development Plan process. Officials from all relevant land use departments have been on hand to hear the ideas and perspectives of residents in every corner of the County.

“We are listening to citizens and working together to produce a collaborative vision for the future of Anne Arundel County,” said Schuh. “These initiatives are a direct result of extensive public input.”

To learn more about the process, residents can visit: www.aacounty.org/Plan2040. The General Development plan is scheduled to be completed by December 2019, with  comprehensive re-zoning legislation submitted to the County Council thereafter.

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