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Arnold Preservation Council Urges Residents To Take Action On Rezoning

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June 2, 2011

By Shane Jacobus

The Arnold Preservation Council (APC) focused on current rezoning bill (#12-11), which is under review by the Anne Arundel County Council, during its monthly meeting at Chesapeake Academy on May 9. The group’s goal at this meeting was two-fold: 1. to raise awareness of the changes proposed in this bill and how they could affect residents; 2. to encourage residents to join APC in its mission of advocating what they call “responsible growth.”

“I think this is a very important subject,” said Ann Fligsten, a local attorney who specializes in environmental law. Fligsten, a former president of APC, currently presides over one of its main projects, the Growth Action Network. She and the other panelists, who spoke at this meeting, said all residents living within the Broadneck area should be deeply concerned about Bill #12-11 for many reasons.

Firstly, most of the current County Council members are still new to office and have never voted on rezoning before. Russell Stevenson of the Magothy River Association (MRA) said his group fears that unless residents take action, the Council will wind up approving the bill as is, and a lot of its terms will not be guided by smart growth. Stevenson added that the MRA does not oppose all commercial development off Ritchie Highway; they simply believe it should be concentrated where it already is located, which is essentially the position of APC and the other groups represented at the May 9 meeting.

“We’re all in this together,” said Elizabeth Rosborg, Publicity Officer for APC.

According to the brochure, APC was first formed in 1999 when a small group of concerned Arnold residents banded together to address some of the issues raised in the Broadneck Small Area Plan. Since then, APC has received non-profit status - effective in 2004 - and expanded its voting membership base to include businesses, institutions, and organizations based in Arnold. Their Growth Action Network alone has over 60 members.

Basically, their mission is “to enhance Arnold’s identity as a desirable community that preserves its rural heritage and environment by advocating responsible growth” as stipulated in the Broadneck Small Area Plan (BSAP), which was first implemented back in 2001. APC and their supporting organizations argue many of the proposals put forward in Bill #12-11 are a blatant contravention of the BSAP.

Rosborg referred to one particular proposal where the owner wanted to have his property rezoned from R1 to C3 in accordance with county zoning classifications, hoping he will have a better chance of selling it. Rosborg said the APC has been fighting this proposal for 12 years and the owner has already been turned down twice. She argues the BSAP clearly states no rezoning changes should be made out of economic benefit to the owner.

To bolster the APC case, Rosborg asserts there are already quite a few commercial buildings located near this property left vacant due to several businesses going under, including the Blockbuster Video formerly located at Arnold Station.

“We don’t need any additional commercialization along Route 2 when there is already so much empty space,” she contends.

Still, the APC and MRA, along with some other groups like the Broadneck Council of Communities, fear there is a strong possibility these changes could come to fruition as most of the current County Council members have never sat through the rezoning process, which is why they (APC) are urging residents to do their homework and get involved.

“It is imperative that we the community educate the County Council before the voting takes place,” said Rosborg.

To learn more about the BSAP and Bill #12-11, residents can visit the county website at www.aacounty.org.

 

 

 


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