Councilmember Chris Trumbauer on balancing growth and the environment in Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD waterfront.
Annapolis, MD’s waterfront. Photo by JP via Flickr.

Anne Arundel County, MD is a county of 540,000 residents situated between Washington, DC and the Chesapeake Bay. Chris Trumbauer, County Councilmember for Anne Arundel County and Chair of the Advisory Board for the new Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to accommodate new development in Anne Arundel County while protecting the natural beauty and resources of the Chesapeake Bay region.

“The Annapolis area has a unique sense of place,” Trumbauer explains. “It has 300 years of history, a connection to the Chesapeake Bay and is Maryland’s capital city. Anne Arundel County has 500 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay, and while there is a lot of development pressure there is also a lot of affinity for environmental issues. It is a vibrant community and I would like to keep it that way.”

Anne Arundel County Councilmember Chris TrumbauerAnne Arundel County Councilmember Chris Trumbauer.

Trumbauer has represented the Annapolis area of the county since 2010. With a background as an environmental advocate, Trumbauer ran for County Council to help make sure the county’s comprehensive rezoning process, which occurs only every decade, kept growth in targeted areas and prevented sprawl. He has made this passion a large part of his ongoing work. In 2011 he introduced a stormwater utility that would create a dedicated funding source to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. “This is critical,” Trumbauer explains, “because older developments were built at a time when no consideration was given to where runoff goes.” The money from the fund would go back into community in the form of capital projects such as stormwater retrofits and stream restoration. In order to pass the bill Trumbauer created a bipartisan work group, and organized an override by the County Council when the County Executive vetoed the bill. In 2012, the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee passed and became law.

Now, transportation is emerging as another important issue for the County. The county serves as the gateway to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has several large employment centers accessible only by car.

“Anne Arundel County has not previously been at the forefront of transportation issues, and we are just now starting to take a look at it. We need to work hard to make up for lost time and get better transportation infrastructure in place.

“I want to figure out a way to have people all around Anne Arundel County be able to travel in a safe and sustainable manner and be able to take advantage of economic opportunities,” he continues. “There are many public housing communities where, if they don’t have access to a car, they can’t take advantage of the county’s economic opportunities.”

As a member of the Local Leaders Council, Trumbauer also offered words of advice for other elected officials interested in smart growth strategies. “The most important thing is education and outreach. No matter what you’re working on, get out there, educate the community on what it means, and educate your colleagues. Make a good case for why smart growth is good for quality of life and economic development.”

Local Leaders Council