April 9, 2019 | Adam D. Baker, Land Use and Zoning Attorney
After a brief hiatus following the election of Steuart Pittman as the new Anne Arundel County Executive, Anne Arundel County is resuming its efforts to update the County’s General Development Plan (the “GDP”). The GDP is the comprehensive plan which guides land use in Anne Arundel County, as well as community growth, transportation, recreation and preservation policies. The new iteration of the GDP – Plan 2040 – will serve as the blueprint for zoning and development in Anne Arundel County for the next twenty years.
The process of developing the new GDP began under the former County Executive Steve Schuh and was initially projected to be implemented by the end of 2019. With the transition in administrations, however, the timeline has been extended. Under the direction of Steuart Pittman, the Office of Planning and Zoning has adopted a new strategy to guide the development of the 2040 GDP. The new strategy includes reconstituting the composition of the Citizens Advisory Committee (“CAC”) with a stronger focus on community engagement. The CAC is a group of Anne Arundel County residents who will provide recommendations to the Office of Planning and Zoning in the preparation of Plan 2040. The new 23-member CAC has community representatives from each of the County’s former Small Areas as well as two representatives from the development industry (residential and commercial) and one representative with an environmental advocacy background.
The formal kick off of the new CAC’s tenure will begin on April 13th with a one-day workshop hosted by the Office of Planning and Zoning and Smart Growth America, a national nonprofit consulting firm which provides guidance and support in master planning and development initiatives throughout the United States. The workshop is being held at the DoubleTree Annapolis (210 Holiday Court) and is open to the public.
The adoption of the GDP is the first step in comprehensive zoning in Anne Arundel County. Following the adoption of the new GDP, the Anne Arundel County Council will oversee a comprehensive county-wide rezoning to ensure that the zoning maps correspond to the vision for growth articulated through the GDP. While the initial timeline for the GDP and rezoning process called for the completion of the plan by the end of 2019, the change in administrations has stretched the process. The new timeline estimates that the GDP will be introduced by the County Council in Spring 2020, with comprehensive zoning legislation to begin in July 2020. Although we are still a year out, the time for providing input on the GDP is now, as the policies for establishing the county’s trajectory under the GDP are already being formed.
The new GDP clearly presents inherent risks and opportunities for growth in Anne Arundel County. For those engaged in the real estate industry in any capacity, it is critical to pay attention over the next twelve months as the process unfolds.
The Land Use and Zoning attorneys at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP are closely monitoring the Anne Arundel County GDP process and will be providing updates along the way. We encourage you to reach out to us if we can be of assistance in any way. Contact Adam Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 410-727-6600.
 The concept of Small Areas comes from the 1990s; specifically the 1997 GDP which recommended dividing Anne Arundel County into 16 Small Planning Areas. The initiative was intended to provide more focus on implementing the goals and recommendations of the GDP at the local community level. The proposal called for adopting Small Area Plans for each of the 16 Planning Areas. While the Small Area Plans ultimately never fully materialized following the adoption of the 1997 GDP, Anne Arundel County Council Bill No. 21-18 breathed new life into the Small Area Plan process. Bill 21-18 requires that the GDP designate no fewer than seven small planning areas and create small area plans for each of those areas. These plans will be developed following the adoption of the GDP and will mirror the policies set forth therein.