Cluster development is a planning design used to group housing together, thereby preserving the remaining land for a neighborhood common area or other environmental features.
But sometimes houses are clustered together without preserving the land. That is an issue District 5 Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler hopes to change. Fiedler sponsored Bill 73-22, which was discussed by the seven-member Anne Arundel County Council on September 6, after the Severna Park Voice went to print.
“The intent is to fully capture the intended outcome of ‘cluster development’ by expanding the definition to include the elements of conservation and preservation of natural features etc. that cluster development is intended to produce,” Fiedler said. “Without those, a proposed development would not fit the definition and thus should not be able to use the flexible lot sizes clustered together.”
Fiedler said she spent more than two years researching and meeting with residents, county agencies and stakeholders before introducing similar legislation, Bill 21-22, in February 2022. That bill needed too many amendments before it could pass, she said. The new bill attacks one part of the problem.
“In a council work session before our summer recess, I showed some slides of two cluster developments that had landscaping around the perimeter, with some open space, some recreational space. That’s the intent: to have flexibility in lot design, but modifications have been given in some cases, taking away those open spaces or recreational spaces,” Fiedler said.
“I’m changing the approach to chip away at this area of the code,” Fiedler said. “We are starting with an update to the definition and will see where it goes. This bill is active for two more meetings … I don’t believe we will solve the cluster problem entirely in this term.”
County Executive Steuart Pittman did not respond to a request for comment.
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