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Capital Opinion Column

February 20, 2019


The City of Annapolis has a plan for the future development of Forest Drive and Eastport. Called a Sector Study, it requires City Council approval to amend the Annapolis 2009-2019 Comprehensive Plan and guide how the area will be further developed until 2030.

The plan’s vision is glorious: a vibrant economy of small village-like communities of multi-family residences with nearby retail shopping; commercial sites where one may walk to work; architecture that creates a feeling of an attractive place to live and work.  Up to 1,428 new residences will lure retail and commercial interests and help fund new bus routes and other public amenities.

There are many ways the plan nudges citizens out of our cars by providing walking and biking paths and tree-lined streets.  It is the hope that a livable, walkable community will offer a high quality of life, attracting employers whose young workers will bring vibrancy to the local society and economy.

All of this is wonderful except it depends on surprising changes.  The Study observes that currently its a commuter area with 80% of workers leaving the peninsula for work, etc., with no prediction that driving behavior will change.

Yet the study says, optimistically, if there’s more nearby shopping, jobs and entertainment, and with new technologies, we’ll drive less.

That’s a hope, though, not a plan.

Where are those new houses going?  If you own property within a block or two of Forest Drive, expect a developer to knock on your door someday with a generous buyout offer.  The plan is to create an “urban boulevard”, with buildings up to four stories high and close to the street, on just about every block on Forest Drive except the Middle School.  

Along Bay Ridge Road on the eastern end of Forest Drive, the city has found a real bonanza for development.  At the Giant grocery’s shopping center and the two-story strip of buildings west of the Giant, the plan proposes a mix of residential, commercial and retail buildings of 4 to 8 stories.

What effect will that have on traffic?  Forest Drive congestion will worsen, admittedly, but the Sector Study planners state that “Improvements recommended to address the current problems will largely accommodate growth.”    

They say that road improvements will be funded by the County and State and by contributions demanded of developers. That’s what the 2009 Comprehensive Plan called for ten years ago and nothing happened.

Perhaps City officials will convince the County and State to cough up funds to support Annapolis’ plans for growth. Though they seem to have other priorities.

When growth is planned, road improvements should not just be talked about but actually funded and construction scheduled before new development.

The Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study isn’t a plan, it’s a vision with dream-like qualities.  

It won’t get us from today’s motley assortment of small shopping centers to charming neighborhoods with delightful amenities.  There is much more work to do.

For example, determining the engineering feasibility of improving the Chinquapin intersection and Forest Drive’s capacity for additional vehicles, finding a source of government funds to pay for infrastructure improvements, evaluating environmental consequences of fewer trees and more stormwater, assessing school capacity.  

And, most of all, calculating whether increased tax revenues out pace the cost of expanded city services.

The Sector Study addresses the future of two-thirds of the city’s land area and population.  However, it doesn’t fully consider the challenges of intense growth on a peninsula with one, congested access road.

It should not be approved by City Council as a backward-looking gesture to complete a past plan. Rather, the Study is the basis for the upcoming 2019-2029 Comprehensive Plan.  

Planners laid groundwork for thinking about possibilities. Residents in Eastport and along Forest Drive should write their own future. Its their turf and they know it best.

Come to a free, public presentation and discussion on the Sector Study on Thursday, February 28, 7:00PM at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library, 269 Hillsmere Dr., Annapolis.

Anastasia Hopkinson


Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation

To read the Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study, go to Comprehensive Planning at


Plans for development on Forest Dr & Bay Ridge Rd.. Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7:00 PM, Hillsmere Library

The Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation invites you to a public presentation on the plans for development on Forest Drive and Bay Ridge Road.  The focus will be on the future, including what’s planned for the Bay Village area (across Bay Ridge Rd. from the Giant shopping area).

Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7:00PM – 8:30PM

Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library at 269 Hillsmere Rd.

You will hear presentations from:

  • Annapolis Planning & Zoning Director Pete Gutwald will describe the City’s Sector study which will refine current development models and design guidelines. The Sector Study is important because it will guide development along Forest Dr. and Bay Ridge Rd.
  • A representative with the Bay Village Assisted living facility will be presenting their project that has approval from the City to proceed.

We’d had hoped a representative with the proposed Lidl grocery store would be available to present their proposal for re-developing the old C&C liquors site.  But they are unable to attend.

This event is free. Parking is available at the library or next door shopping area.

Crystal Spring – Public Meeting Feb. 22, 2017, Hillsmere Library, 7:ooPM to 8:30PM

Join us on Feb. 22, 2017, for a presentation by former Senator Gerald Winegrad on the new proposal for Crystal Spring.

In February 2017, National Lutheran Communities and Services announced their intent to submit a new concept plan for only the Continuing Care Retirement Community.  The development will be on the eastern half of the 111 acre property.

The current proposal is for 440 senior housing units to be built in two phases.  Twenty-seven acres of Priority Forest (required for preservation by State Forest Conservation Act) would be destroyed.

A Traffic Impact Study should be available in preparation for an application to the Annapolis Planning & Zoning and to the Planning Commission for development review and approval.

Earlier plans for the commercial and retail components have been dropped.  No indication has been offered about how the western half of the property will be developed.

For more information, please visit

Ntl Luthern concept plan for Crystal Spring dvlpmt. Feb 2017.
Ntl Luthern concept plan for Crystal Spring dvlpmt. Feb 2017.

Lidl Store – planned on Bay Ridge Road at Georgetown Road

3/11/17  Lidl’s request for Special Exception for the store size was approved by the County Administrative Hearing Officer in early March 2017.  Lidl also received approval for reduced parking and a smaller rear delivery platform which ANPF had requested to conserve more forest.

Lidl’s next step is to get approvals for their site design plans from the County Office of Planning and Zoning and for building on/near wetlands from the Maryland Department of the Environment.


Lidl is planning a grocery store at 925 Bay Ridge Road at Georgetown Road, on the Samarras property, the site of the dilapidated C&C Liquors store.  The property is within the County’s jurisdiction.  The owner had begun the process to annex into the City in 2005 but has withdrawn that application in favor of this development.  The property is 5.28 acres, all zoned commercial C-1.

Lidl is planning a 36,185 square foot (s.f.) local, neighborhood grocery store.  22,837 s.f. will be the sales floor and the rest is storage and admin.  174 parking spots.  Lidl says the store will employ 30 to 40 employees, f/t and p/t.

Comparisons (to the best of ANPF’s knowledge):  Trader Joe’s is 18,000 s.f..  Giant is 50,000 s.f. to 55,000 s.f., Graul’s is 25,000 s.f.

ANPF has been told by Lidl representatives that the product mix will be fresh fruits and veggies, as much as possible sourced locally; packaged meats; on-site bakery, German chocolates and other packaged household goods.  There will be outdoor seating, and a bike storage rack, but no indoor seating.  There will be a walking/bike path connecting to the Bay Village Shopping Area.  Hours of operation will be similar to Giant, including closing at approx. 10 pm.

Lidl agreed to these requests of ANPF to:

  • Reduce impervious surface by reducing the number of parking spots (they reduced from 182 to 174);
  • Preserve more of the forest on the south side of the property where the Greenway is located by not developing a rear drive aisle for delivery;
  • Preserve more of the forest on the west side of the property by reconfiguring the parking area;
  • Provide outdoor seating, a bike rack and a walkway/bike-path connecting to Bay Village Road.

ANPF has these concerns with the Lidl proposal:

  • Lack of connection with the the Bay Village shopping area.
  • Requirement  for a Special Exception because of the size of the grocery building.

ANPF’s positions on the Special Exception requests are:

  1. ANPF supports the use of this property as a grocery because that is consistent with both the County and City comprehensive plans.
  2. ANPF supports the Special Exception to remove the rear drive aisle requirement in order to conserve a greater area of forest or afforestation; to reduce impermeable surface for improved stormwater management; and, to preserve the Greenway.
  3. ANPF is neutral regarding the Special Exception for a greater building size of 36,185 square feet than allowed in a C1 zoning district (25,000 square feet) and defers to and supports the judgement of the Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning in that regard.
  4. ANPF strongly supports integration of the site design with the adjacent Bay Village development on the eastern side of the property. Specifically, Lidl is encouraged to design the site so that the front of the grocery faces the Bay Village development and Lidl’s parking lot is integrated with Bay Village parking and connected to Bay Village Drive.

Connection with Bay Village

This property is between the Bay Village shopping area and Fawcetts.  The Lidl grocery will be built on the eastern perimeter of the property, with its’ ‘back’ towards the Bay Village shopping area.  The grocery front will face west (effectively, facing Fawcetts) and the parking lot will be on the western side.  As residents drive towards Bay Ridge, the front of the grocery will be clearly visible.  But, from within the adjacent Bay Village shopping area, the only connection is a foot path because the building creates a dead-end at Bay Village Drive.

ANPF supports the City of Annapolis’ concept for the Bay Village shopping area and is concerned that the placement of the building with its’ ‘back’ to Bay Village would be unattractive and diminish consumer enjoyment.  ANPF would prefer the grocery building face Bay Village and its’ parking lot access Bay Village Drive.

The Bay Village shopping area is four lots in the front and one large lot in the rear.  Presently only two front lots are developed: the CVS and Quantum Sails.  The two remaining front lots may be, respectively,  a free-standing restaurant or coffee shop and a 2-story building with retail or restaurant below and offices above.  The rear lot of the Bay Village shopping area will have a 2-story assisted living residence built in 2018.

The City of Annapolis envisions the Bay Village area to be inviting to  pedestrian visitors and shoppers.  Bay Village’s internal road, Bay Village Drive, connects all these properties.  The buildings in the front along Bay Ridge Road will have their front doors on Bay Village Drive and an attractive facade on Bay Ridge Rd.  Orienting buildings on Bay Village Drive, inside the shopping area, is intended to create more of a sense of place and community gathering.

Special Exception for building size

The proposed building size of the Lidl store exceeds the county’s zoning code which is 25,000 s.f. for a local, neighborhood grocery store.   County Code Section 18-5-102.

Lidl also seeks a Special Exception for not developing the rear drive aisle (bulk delivery area) requirement.   County Code Section 18-5-201.

The County Administrative Hearing Officer may allow Special Exceptions when the Officer determines that: (1) the property has certain unique physical conditions that prevent reasonable development; or (2) because of exceptional circumstances, other than financial consideration, development has practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship.   County Code Section 18-16-305.

The Greenway

A Greenway environmental protection area exists in the rear of the Bay Village and Lidl/C&C-Liquor properties.  The property owners have committed to protecting the Greenway with a minimum 100 foot buffer of animal habitat and forest in the rear of all these properties.

  • greenway

Click here for Lidl’s application for a variance.

Click here for Anne Arundel County Planning & Zoning’s recommendation for conditional approval of the variance, conditioned upon obtaining a revised MD Dept. of the Environment permit for impacting nontidal wetlands and on County approval of a revised site plan for changes according to the wetland permit’s requirement.  The County commented that “A reduction in parking could be considered to preserve additional environmental features if the applicant provides connectivity and joint parking arrangement within the adjacent “Bay Village” site.”

Click here for the traffic impact study.

The public hearing on the request for the Special Exceptions, notable for a larger store than allowed in the C1 zoning district for a grocery’s size was held on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 at 11:00 am before the County Administrative Hearing Officer, Arundel Center, 44 Calvert Street, downtown Annapolis.  Public testimony was received by many local residents.  The hearing officer allowed the Special Exceptions.  On March 15, a resident appealed the Hearing Officer’s decision to the County Board of Appeals but withdrew their appeal before the hearing.

Parkside Preserve residential development


Parkside Preserve originally proposed 152 residences, half townhouses, half single-family, on 40 acres of land.  It is located west of the intersection of Forest Drive at Bay Ridge Ave./Hillsmere Drive, and is adjacent to the northern edge of Quiet Waters Park.

ANPF led several legal actions.  The most recent are summarized here.

On August 9, 2016, the Circuit Court judge dismissed our appeal of the Forest Conservation Plan of the Parkside Preserve development because the City, failing to properly adopt the State Forest Conservation Act, lacks an appeal process.  (City Council is correcting that by putting the appeal process in the new Forest Conservation law.)

ANPF lead community efforts to reverse that  dismissal by taking it to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals because the right to appeal a bureaucrat’s decision is fundamental to governance.  Meanwhile, the legal wheels will turn very slowly while this all works out.  On June 1, 2017 the appellate Court dismissed our request on a technicality of what sort of request to file.

The developer now had the ability to move forward.  But the city was hesitant because we still were pressing Annapolis Mayor Pantilides to use his authority to reject the Forest Conservation Plan because citizens’ public comment was denied, the plan misrepresented the forest’s condition, the original city approval (by the non-defunct Dept of Environment and Neighborhoods) was over 5 years old and based on incorrect information.

In October 2017, Mayor Panitilides authorized the City of Annapolis to use $1.5 million of funds received from the State’s Open Space Program to purchase a couple dozen lots covering 4.4 acres, in the southwest corner of the property, contiguous to Quiet Waters Park.  The land will be placed in a conservation easement and never be developed.  It will be a public park.

ANPF is pleased that the City of Annapolis preserved a portion of this Priority One, quality forest.  We’d have preferred that the Forest Conservation Act was better enforced and the City did not have to “play catch-up” by spending funds to correct serious administrative deficiencies.  Nonetheless, the forest is in safe hands and that is what counts most.





Mayor has the power to stop Parkside Preserve mega-development

Environmental and community leaders from around the Annapolis Neck submitted the following letter to Mayor Pantelides, asking him to take action to stop the Parkside Preserve development project in the City. He alone can order his Director to revoke their approval to clear the priority forests, and to declare their Planned Development application to be expired. This would send the project back to the Planning Commission where it will finally have a proper public review. As of now, the public has been denied a voice. Quiet Waters park and our communities are at risk because of that. This forest and its wetlands serve as the headwaters for Harness Creek and flows into Quiet Waters Park. It needs to be protected, and should be protected under the law.

Here is the letter (find out what you can do here and also sign a petition):

Continue reading Mayor has the power to stop Parkside Preserve mega-development