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Pittman awaits Anne Arundel development moratorium advice

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman expects to know in a few weeks whether a development moratorium along two major thoroughfares is feasible, but he says  he’s considering alternatives to stave off more traffic adding to the danger on congested roads.

Currently, the county’s law office is researching if the volume of car crashes in the Route 2 and Route 3 corridors constitutes a crisis enabling a building ban. Because of potential legal challenges to a freeze, Pittman’s administration has identified another option.

“The alternative, of course, to a moratorium on (development) is looking at adequate public facilities laws and whether or not — the facility being the road — and whether or not the traffic is adequate to allow development,” Pittman said.

Pittman broached the potential for a development freeze in the Route 2 and 3 corridors last month. The Route 3 corridor that runs from Interstate 97 to Prince George’s County in particular has experienced significant development over the past two decades.

The once relatively lightly populated suburban area has attracted substantial new building ranging from single family homes to large-scale mixed-use projects. Portions of Route 3 between I-97 and and Bowie, according to Maryland State Highway Administration traffic volume maps, exceed 80,000 daily trips.

Pittman expects an opinion in about three weeks to determine whether the danger from traffic and failing intersections on both roads provides sufficient justification for a building ban. One factor at play in the decision, he said, is that Maryland State Highway Administration hasn’t yet presented a plan to solve failing intersections.

“It’s been looked at in the past. We know that moratoriums like this can be challenged, and we’re told we have to identify a crisis, and we have to have a solution and a timeline for a solution,” Pittman said Thursday.

Pittman discussed the potential moratorium during a news conference on Thursday where he touted a new process for establishing the county’s development plan.

Roughly 52% of county voters in 2018 backed Pittman, the first Democrat elected executive since 2006, over Republican incumbent Steve Schuh. The top reason voters backed him, Pittman said, is they believed he’d fix “reckless” development.

Pittman’s administration has already altered the county’s development process by shortening the window to apply for land-use changes and passing legislation requiring the county’s master development plan include sub-plans for at least seven county “geographic subregions.”

“There’s always a tension between the development community that wants to build and the communities that surround it, and that’s the needle we have to thread,” Pittman said.

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