Residents along the many tributaries of Middle River may get some help in their battle against 40-foot-high boat storage racks.
County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, D-5th, has introduced legislation to create a Business-Maritime Marina zoning classification that would restrict the height and location of land-based boat storage facilities. He also is proposing a Business-Maritime Boat Yard zone. The two classifications have been approved by the county planning board.
According to the bill, a limit of three boats could be stored on a rack. This would bring the height of subsequently built storage racks to about 30 feet. The racks also would have to be located farther away from nearby residential property lines than the current law requires.
Other provisions would require more parking spaces at marinas and wider use of landscaping and buffers.
"The bill will allow the residential communities and the marinas to be more compatible," said Mr. Gardina. "Boating is an important business in the county, and we need to protect it and the residential neighborhoods."
The 5th District runs from the northern half of Back River to the Bird River and includes two-thirds of the county's shoreline and 41 of its 71 marinas. The district's marinas and boat yards exist as special exceptions to the zoning code because they are located in either residential or light business zones.
Boat yards and marinas in the 7th District are in the business-major zoning classification and would not be affected by the new legislation.
Mr. Gardina said the bill was the result of protests from civic associations about boat storage racks that dwarf nearby homes, and complaints from marina owners that even the slightest change in their operation requires a lengthy bureaucratic
A boating industry spokesman and a community leader both expressed cautious optimism about the bill.
Bob Palmer, president of the Maritime Trade Association of Baltimore County, said his organization generally supports the legislation "which we hope will be productive for both the maritime business and the civic associations."
Bob Christopher, a community leader in the Back River Neck Peninsula community, said the bill "is at least a first step in solving the compatibility of marinas and residential neighborhoods."
"We would have liked to have seen more restrictions on marinas being located along distressed waterways," said Mr. Christopher.