Pittman hires smart growth czar for Anne Arundel County

Adam Bednar//December 26, 2019

Pittman hires smart growth czar for Anne Arundel County

By Adam Bednar

//December 26, 2019

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman’s office said the county has hired a deputy chief administrative officer to oversee land use as the administration continues its efforts to rein in development. It is the first such hire for the jurisdiction.

Matt Power, who served as director of StateStat under former Gov. Martin O’Malley and as deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning, will hold the role created in the fiscal 2020 budget. The job description calls for comprehensive management of land use agencies and improved cooperation and communication between the agencies.

“Matt Power understands the land use challenges we face in our county,” Pittman said. “We are fortunate to have attracted a person for this position who knows the potential and the limits of government engagement in questions of both development and preservation.”

Power, in a statement, said he’s looking forward to implementing smart and sustainable growth policies in the county.

“County Executive Pittman has demonstrated to county residents that he is committed to responsible land use and strong communities and I am excited to soon be a part of this team,” Power said.

Earlier this month, Pittman, a housing advocate turned horse trainer, said he intended to rein in “reckless” growth in the county.

During a Dec. 3 news conference in Annapolis, Pittman said taming development was the main reason voters backed him in 2018.

His administration has already started to overhaul the county’s process for approving development. It also has started putting together a general development plan to guide development in Anne Arundel County through 2040.

Organizations such as Smart Growth Maryland support Pittman’s proposals for reshaping the county’s development process and land use decisions.

Kimberly Golden Brandt, that group’s director, previously praised the strategy that Pittman is pursuing and that Power will now be charged with helping to implement.

“I’m very excited the county has embraced this approach to planning. It’s a best practice that I’m starting to see embraced in other counties as well,” Brandt said.

The Pittman administration is waiting on legal advice about whether it can pursue a crackdown on development in portions of the county it feels have been overbuilt.

The county’s law office is researching whether the volume of car crashes in the Route 2 and Route 3 corridors reaches the threshold of a crisis, which would permit a development moratorium.

In particular, the Route 3 corridor that runs from Interstate 97 to Prince George’s County has experienced significant development over the past two decades.

In case of legal challenges to a development freeze, the Pittman administration has identified another option to slow building in those areas.

“The alternative, of course, to a moratorium on (development) is looking at adequate public facilities laws … and whether or not the traffic is adequate to allow development,” Pittman said at the Dec. 3 news conference, adding that by “facilities” he meant roads.


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