ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 17 -- Anne Arundel County unveiled its final proposals today for limiting development along the edge of the Cheapeake Bay and its tributaries, a move that would impose severe development restrictions and tight environmental controls on almost 50,000 acres, more than 18 percent of the county's area.
The restrictions, required as part of a statewide effort to reduce pollution in the bay, already have resulted in higher waterfront house prices and are expected to anger developers and property owners who could be severely limited in the amount of building they can do. In some cases, property that cannot be developed under the restrictions could lose value, while the cost of areas where new construction will be allowed could shoot up.
County Planning Director Thomas Osborne said that most waterfront property owners already will have figured out which category their property falls in. Nevertheless, he said he expected complaints from property owners when the county holds a public hearing on the proposals on Oct. 1.
"I think there will be a lot of controversy because it's a substantial program, and it changes the way we regulate land use in Anne Arundel," Osborne said.
The new plans presented by the county Office of Planning and Zoning come as little surprise to local builders, property owners and real estate agents, who have known since last year that the regulations were coming and would have a large effect on a county with more than 400 miles of shoreline.
"I think the effects have already happened," said Jerry Moore, president of the county Board of Realtors. Because waterfront property has long been popular, Moore added, "we don't have that much buildable waterfront property left in the county anyway."
Moore said he believes the critical area regulations already have caused increases in waterfront house prices. While no calculations have been made for Anne Arundel, a state study earlier this year indicated that the regulations have already added $11,000 to the value of a typical waterfront house in neighboring Calvert County.
The restrictions, required under Maryland's 1986 Critical Areas law, must be implemented in Anne Arundel and other waterfront counties by September 1988. The state required those counties to categorize all land within 1,000 feet of the bay as areas of intense development, limited development or "resource conservation areas," and then impose a series of regulations limiting development and the destruction of forests and marshlands in these areas.
According to the Anne Arundel plans released today, 48,846 acres of the county lie within 1,000 feet of the bay and its tributaries. Of that land, 11 percent would be areas of intensive development, 46 percent would be for limited development, and 43 percent would be mapped as resource conservation areas.
Most of the large intensely developed areas are in older waterfront communities, while most of the large resource conservation areas are in the rural, southern half of the county. Osborne said many of those areas would be difficult to build on anyway because of ravines, steep slopes or other natural features.
Under the proposals, no new development would be allowed within 100 feet of the water, except for water-dependent facilities such as fishing docks and marinas. New development could take place beyond the 100-foot buffer in areas that are intensely developed, but it would have to improve the quality of water running into the bay and preserve wildlife habitats.
In limited development areas, new projects would have to be at a density below four houses per acre. No more than 15 percent of a development site could be covered by impermeable surfaces such as buildings and parking lots. Building on slopes would be restricted, and no more than 20 percent of forested land could be cleared. An equivalent area of new forest would have to be planted to replace trees destroyed.
In resource conservation areas, new development could not exceed one house per 20 acres, and stricter regulations govern the preservation of wildlife habitat.