Highland activist John W. Taylor said Friday that he and the 111-member community lobby he founded will fight "tooth and nail" to kill the administration's plans to comprehensively rezone western Howard County.
Between now and Thursday, Taylor and members of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth plan to hand-deliver anti-clustering fliers to 2,000 western county residents, urging them to attend a 7:30 p.m. Planning Board meeting at Glenelg High Thursday and vigorously oppose the rezoning proposal.
In preparation for the meeting, Taylor's group will conduct a rally at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Clarks ville Elementary. Taylor plans to go over the rezoning plan in detail, underscoring what he believes to be its flaws. "Come and see what's (proposed) next to you," he wrote to members of his organization last week.
The rezoning proposal would substitute four new districts -- rural residential, rural conservation, business rural and density exchange overlay -- for the currentone-house-per-3-acre zoning that Taylor and his group prefer.
Clustering -- grouping homes on a small parcel while leaving the remaining larger portion for rural, non-residential purposes -- is mandated by the county's 1990 General Plan and is at the heart of the comprehensive rezoning proposal.
"People think clustering is going to saveland," Taylor said. "But with the special exceptions allowed in the General Plan, you can get anything you want. You get building-unit allotments for land like stream valleys and steep slopes that is not developable and can cluster or transfer those units elsewhere."
Taylor's plan to oppose the proposal is a reprise of a campaign he conducted in June. Then, a boisterous, sometimes rowdy crowd of more than 300 people lambasted the Rural Land Use Study Commission for suggesting ways that houses might be clustered in rural areas.
County Planning Director Joseph W. Rutter Jr. said that if the Planning Board meeting turns into "a shouting match like June 5," when the land use commission was almost hooted off the stage, "it would be a disservice tothe county."
"I know improvements can be made to the proposal," Rutter said. "If we agree to disagree, that's fine. Say what's not acceptable and allow the board to take it into consideration."
Rutterdisputes Taylor's charge that the county has not been listening to resident's suggestions. Many comments have led to changes and have been incorporated into the administration's petition, he said.
One change would lower density in cluster receiving areas to one unit per 5acres instead of the one per 3 acres the administration originally proposed.
Another would make the property behind a commercial striponRoute 108 in Clarksville a residential cluster instead of a planned office research zone. The office research proposal drew sharp criticism from adjoining land owners whose property is in the county's farmland preservation program.
Taylor wonders whether the amendments will be part of the final rezoning package. He says the planning board meeting has been poorly advertised and says he suspects that the county doesn't really want a big turnout.
"People don't have a clue what's going on right now," he said. "I just want people to know what's happening. If people say they love it -- I don't think they will -- . . . fine. I've got a real desire to have a lot of people show up.I will do my best to let the public know what's happening."