Several environmental groups yesterday blasted an Anne Arundel County proposal to limit development along its Chesapeake Bay shoreline, saying the restrictions are too lax and do not adhere to the state's critical areas regulations.

The groups, which included the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Clean Water Action Coalition and the Severn River Association, complained that the plan would allow 2,500 acres of land to be developed at much greater densities than state law requires.

"They are watering down and weakening the concept of the critical areas," said Charles Tucker of the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association. "We are losing a lot of ground, and setting a dangerous precedent."

Under a state law designed to help clean up the Bay, waterfront counties must designate land within 1,000 feet of the bay and its tributaries as areas of intense development, limited development, or "resource conservation areas" where little development has taken place. The state law restricts development in resource conservation areas to densities less than one house on every 20 acres.

Under state law, land with no access to public water or sewer must be placed in resource conservation areas. However, county planners did not include 2,500 acres of land within 2,000 feet of public water and sewer connections.