Conflicts between industrial and residential land use shape many of the rezoning issues in Baltimore County's 6th Councilmanic District, where the county Planning Board will hold a public hearing tonight.
"Some of these residential areas are suffering a lot of truck traffic generated by industry," said Gary Kerns, chief of community planning.
Many trucks already use the two-lane Philadelphia Road in the eastern part of the county as an alternative to Pulaski Highway or Interstate 95, Mr. Kerns said, and much of the land yet to be developed is zoned for industrial use.
In January, the County Council adopted a land-use plan for the Philadelphia Road corridor from Rossville Boulevard north to Cowenton Avenue, and between Interstate 95 and the CSX railroad tracks.
Currently in the rezoning process, which occurs every four years, the planning staff has recommended adding a "restricted" designation to several parcels that would limit the manufacturing uses, Mr. Kerns said.
Another proposed solution is a new designation, service employment zone, now awaiting a County Council vote, he said. If adopted, this zoning could create a buffer of "flex warehouses" -- so-called because they can be used as either offices or warehouses -- that don't generate truck traffic or customer automobile flow.
Meanwhile, a proposal to allow a new, large warehouse store (such as B.J.'s, PACE or Price Club) across I-95 from White Marsh Mall has the planning staff's support.
"There seems to be a market for this scale of retail in the county, and we feel this is the appropriate location for it. It's a more commercial setting, rather than a residential area," Mr. Kerns said.
The staff has also recommended lowering the density on 90 residentially zoned acres near Essex Community College and Franklin Square Hospital, one of the largest remaining open spaces in the area. The proposal would eliminate apartments and allow only townhouses and single-family homes, so new development would blend with existing neighborhoods, Mr. Kerns said.
Of the eastern county in general, Planning Director P. David Fields observed: "Throughout that entire part of the county . . . industry and housing sort of traditionally mixed over the years. But as both have developed, they've become less and less compatible -- you've got much bigger trucks, for example."
Problems such as those along Philadelphia Road -- and those along Belair Road, Joppa Road and other traffic-swollen thoroughfares -- arise when people no longer want to live there. The land is still zoned residential, but planners cannot recommended a change to commercial zoning because that would increase the traffic even more -- and with it the price of any land needed for road widening, he said.
"Some of these people have their whole livelihoods tied up in these houses," Mr. Fields said. "There's no easy solution, no short-term solution. . . . It's so difficult to know what to do. They're trapped on these roads that were once residential."
The Baltimore County Planning Board's public hearing on comprehensive rezoning issues in the 6th Councilmanic District will be held at 7:30 tonight at Parkville High School, 2600 Putty Hill Ave. Registration for speakers begins at 6 p.m.