October 21, 2017
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  • In addition to regulations set by the county’s Office of Planning and Zoning, other organizations and associations can influence the look and design of a property. The Arnold Preservation Council worked with developers to ensure that construction projects surrounding the brick Arnold Station shipping center - including TD Bank and CVS - matched its look and style.
    Photo by Shawn Brubaker
    In addition to regulations set by the county’s Office of Planning and Zoning, other organizations and associations can influence the look and design of a property. The Arnold Preservation Council worked with developers to ensure that construction projects surrounding the brick Arnold Station shipping center - including TD Bank and CVS - matched its look and style.

How Anne Arundel County Regulates New Development

Darrell Mak
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February 10, 2015

Anne Arundel County’s rules and guidelines for land use can be traced to 1964, when the county adopted a charter form of government, breaking away from the original commissioner-style government that was in place since the county’s founding. As a charter county, Anne Arundel obtains planning and zoning powers from the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The county code authorizes use of a comprehensive plan to guide growth and development, and since 1968, the county has designated the General Development Plan (GDP) to serve as the county’s comprehensive land use plan. The GDP is updated roughly every decade, most recently in 2009.

The 1997 GDP contained many recommendations on land use in the county, including a generalized Land Use Plan, which guides where various types of developments should be located. It also called for developing a series of Small Area Plans (SAP), which are community-based plans that serve as guides to how individual properties should be used. Severna Park was one of 16 SAPs completed in the county. The SAP identifies areas where mixed use - which incorporates a variety of residential, office and retail uses in proximity - should be encouraged.

“Severna Park is a well-established community bounded by the Severn and Magothy Rivers, with many tree-lined neighborhoods containing a variety of home styles,” the plan described. “The purpose of the Severna Park Small Area Plan is to enhance the quality of life in Severna Park, to help implement the goals and recommendations of the General Development Plan, and to promote citizen, business and county cooperation in the planning and development process.”

In addition to statutory regulations, other organizations and associations can influence the look and design of a property. Homeowner associations typically promulgate rules for houses within their communities. Homes that aren’t covered by an association may attract the attention of organizations like the Arnold Preservation Council (APC).

“A lot of Arnold is ‘Old Arnold,’ which includes individual houses that don’t belong to a community association,” explained Elizabeth Rosborg, president of APC. Although APC volunteers might work with individual homeowners as needed to address aesthetic or other issues, APC’s primary focus of late has been with the more significant property developments in the area. APC was instrumental in working with the developer of the new CVS drugstore in Arnold to ensure the design of the building’s exterior was consistent with its surrounding brick properties, such as TD Bank and Safeway.

For CVS, APC “worked particularly hard with the landscaping and design aspects,” recalled Rosborg. In addition to a matching brick façade, CVS agreed to put up a privacy fence, extra landscaping buffer and security lighting, and the company even facilitated a third turn lane to Route 2 South.

APC closely monitors land development activities, such as proposals, permit applications and zoning requests, to stay abreast of potential changes in the landscape. The council then gets involved early in the process to ensure a successful project. Although developers are not required by law to adhere to APC’s requests, most want to do what’s best for the community and are very accommodating.

Recent projects on APC’s agenda include the new Admiral’s Ridge development on Route 2 and another upcoming residential development to be located between Admiral’s Ridge and the Goddard School.

In Millersville, the Severna Park SAP also addressed revitalizing existing commercial areas, particularly along Veterans Highway. The concept was to combine redevelopment with some new infill commercial development. Over the past few years, a number of new small businesses and restaurants have opened near the corner of Veterans Highway and Benfield Road.

Although the GDP and SAP provide the initial zoning constraints for properties in the area, property owners can submit requests to change the zoning. Owners can submit a request to the county to change zoning for an individual property, or they can wait for an opportunity under comprehensive rezoning, where a single decision is made for groups of properties at one time rather than considering each property individually. Comprehensive rezoning can be easier to win than individual property rezoning. Introduction of the county SAPs provided the opportunity for property owners who were previously denied individual rezoning approval to seek comprehensive rezoning.

For more information, contact the Office of Planning and Zoning through www.aacounty.org.


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