Louise Haneken, 73, has lived in the same house in Arnold for 60 years. She lived there before the county began making plans to turn her community and the surrounding Broadneck Peninsula into a high-growth area. Now she and her neighbors blame those growth-spurring efforts for what she says is a declining, yet more expensive, quality of life.
"I think it's a rip-off," Haneken said last week, summing up similar complaints from 250 neighbors gathered for a civic forum in a high school auditorium.
The question of whether there are adequate facilities to serve an escalating population on the peninsula and what that growth is doing to established residents has been a continuing debate between residents and the Anne Arundel County government.
As a part of the suburban boom that hit the county in the past decade, the Broadneck Peninsula has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of growth. County planners and elected officials agreed in the mid-1960s that it would be one of three areas where growth would be centered in the county. Twenty years later, the peninsula, just north of Annapolis, across the Severn River, is the highest growth area in the county.
Between 1970 and 1980, according to census figures, population on the Broadneck grew 43 1/2 percent, from 26,103 to 37,453. In the same time, the county population grew only 24 percent, to 371,000. Nearly all of the development has been residential, attracting a middle-to-upper-income population. County planners claim success.
At last week's meeting, residents complained to 10 county officials, including County Executive O. James Lighthizer, about the stench of the local sewage treatment plant, the low water pressure--insufficient water supplies forced officials to impose a partial ban on outdoor water use in July that still remains--and the sedimentation of creeks from development.
They also complained of heavily trafficked roads and the total burden of what they depicted as overdevelopment. Broadneck Senior High School, in which they met, is only 2 years old and already faces overcrowding, they said.
What the Broadneck and, to a lesser extent, the growth centers of Annapolis and Crofton are facing is "growing pains," Lighthizer said. Most of the area's problems--the water, the roads, and sedimentation from construction--can be chalked up in part to its being an area that is still growing and changing, he said.
Lighthizer, who moved to Crofton in 1969, said he empathizes and agrees with Broadneck residents that the quality of life has fallen but also agrees with planners who say it is inevitable as the area develops. And, while some things, such as a tie-line that will draw on the county's other water systems in case of future shortages, can ease the pinch, growth will continue.
"The time to change is long since past," said F. Beck Kurdle, county planning and zoning officer. Through the 1980s, Kurdle's office predicts a 21 percent growth on the peninsula.
One of the reasons for the continued growth is that the county's central-collection sewage treatment plant serving the Broadneck has allocated use to developers for 3,829 additional dwellings, which should carry development through 1990, officials said.
The county cannot legally stop that development, Lighthizer said, because allocation amounts to a contract.
To break that contract and impose a moratorium under the county's police powers, he would have to prove that the county could not serve further development or that the development would pose a hazard to the public health, neither of which is now true, he added.
There is some hope, however. County population projections show population growth on the Broadneck will slow to 3 percent in the 1990s.
In the meantime, the county has several projects on line to update facilities and cushion the growth: Officials say they intend to:
* Strengthen storm water management, erosion and sedimentation-control regulations to take into account peculiar features of land and reduce run-off.
* Install a tie-line to connect the two Broadneck water supply systems to other county systems so water can be pumped in at times of unexpected demand.
The county draws its water from aquifers and has no shortage of water, only an inability to get it to the surface fast enough to meet high demands, officials said.
* Expand College Parkway, a main east-west thoroughfare on the southern part of the peninsula, to four lanes. It is now two lanes, except where it meets Ritchie Highway.