Zoning is of critical importance to pretty much everyone. Where you live, the roads you drive on, where you go to the store — it defines our neighborhoods and communities.
You might not realize it, but we are in a whirlwind of zoning decisions right now. At a meeting at Baldwin Hall on Sept. 20, Phil Hager, county planning and zoning officer, described some of the whirlwind to about 100 Crownsville residents.
The most important is the General Development Plan 2040, which will be completed in 2019 and is intended to be the plan for comprehensive re-zoning of the entire county. It will guide development and preservation efforts for the next decade, at least.
The current GDP was done in 2009 and incorporated input from 14 Small Area Plans developed from 2000-2004. In contrast, the current process for 2040, as Hager explained it, is for the county, with the guidance of a Citizens Advisory Committee to come up with a plan for comprehensive re-zoning first.
Once the comprehensive rezoning is completed, Small Area Plans that seek local community input will be done. As stated in the legislation, “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.”
Does anyone else see a problem with that plan? Shouldn’t the Small Area Plans be updated before the General Plan, especially since the Small Area Plans are more outdated than the GDP?
And perhaps more importantly, who is on the Citizens Advisory Committee? Disclaimer: I applied and was not selected.
The committee was appointed in August and there are representatives from “each of the seven County Council districts, as well as from the environment, building, education, and planning sectors.”
County Executive Steve Schuh appointed Leo Wilson as the committee chair. Wilson is lead architect for the design of the Bayhawks Sports Complex proposal for rehab of the Crownsville Hospital Center, his firm is Hammond Wilson Architects.
This is an obvious conflict of interest regarding a controversial development proposal, a disqualifying one in our opinion. Exacerbating this conflict is that Wilson, his company, Brendan Kelly (the Bayhawks’ owner) and his company (Smart Link LLC) donated more than $20,000 to Schuh’s campaign fund, according to Sept. 24 filings with the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System.
Schuh doubled down on this conflict by appointing Michael Linynsky as the representative from Crownsville. Linysky is an advocate for the Bayhawks Sports Complex and received Bayhawks support for events he organized for Prince George’s County Fire Department.
Given the strong opposition to the stadium complex that Crownsville residents have expressed at four public meetings, Linynsky is a poor choice to represent Crownsville residents.
The committee’s first meeting was on Oct. 3. Wilson introduced himself as a 28-year county resident and an architect with professional development interests in the county — “our work comes directly out of the plans.” Yes, that is exactly why he should step down as chair of the committee, his conflicts of interests are numerous and large.
Oddly there were no representatives from Anne Arundel County Public Schools or county police or fire departments. Nor did there seem to be anyone with specific expertise in transportation.
We also found out recently that the Maryland State Department of Transportation has agreed to do a study of a new interchange on Interstate 97 in Crownsville because Schuh requested it in May. Is it a “coincidence” that this is the very same study requested by the Maryland Secretary of Health Robert Neall in 2017 as part of a larger study to evaluate plans to build the Bayhawks Sports Complex?
So Schuh appears to be pushing that proposal forward on that front, too.
Why all the maneuvering to promote the Bayhawks’ proposal? Is there really a voice for local residents at the table or are we being duped and written out of the equation?
Perfidy is a strong word, it is defined as deceitfulness. With regard to Crownsville, I think it applies.
Janet Holbrook of Crownsville is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a member of WISE, Women, Indivisible, Strong, Effective.