$TC The county Department of Planning recommends against rezoning a 10-acre Finksburg tract for business use because the change could increase traffic at a busy intersection, disturb a wetland and adversely affect water quality in the nearby Liberty Reservoir.
The department made its recommendation yesterday in a report to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will advise the county commissioners. The commissioners make the final determination.
The Bureau of Water Resource Management and the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board also recommended against rezoning the land from conservation, a designation intended to protect natural resources.
The property is north of Route 140 and east of Route 91, diagonally opposite the Finksburg Plaza. Surrounding land uses include retail businesses, an equipment storage yard, industrial-zoned property and several residences.
The property is in the Liberty Reservoir Watershed, 2,300 feet from the North Branch of the Patapsco River, which flows into the reservoir. A tributary to the North Branch traverses a wooded area of the property. The reservoir provides drinking water for Carroll County and the Baltimore region.
The petitioners, Michael G. and Fotini Cornias, Arthur C. and Judith G. Risso, and Charles T. Winebarger Jr., have no specific plans to develop or sell the property, said their attorney, Bill MacDonald.
The water resource bureau said developing the property commercially would degrade or destroy the wetland, which acts as a natural filter for pollutants. It also would be inconsistent with a 1984 regional reservoir agreement that calls for protecting the watershed by limiting urban development.
Last year, the commissioners granted a similar rezoning request for a parcel along Route 140 closer to Liberty Reservoir, changing five acres from conservation to industrial. The planning staff and the planning commission had recommended against it.
The commissioners must find either that the neighborhood surrounding the parcel now under consideration has changed or that a mistake was made in the original zoning in order to approve the request.
MacDonald argued that there have been other rezonings and changes in the area.
In other business, the commission approved a county Parks and Land Preservation Plan, required by the state to qualify for Program Open Space grants.
The plan proposes studying the development of greenways -- corridors connecting larger open spaces -- and a bikeway system. The county had planned to hire a consultant for a greenways study, but state money was cut, said planner Steve Horn.
The plan also emphasizes the need to create the Gillis Falls and Union Mills reservoirs, develop additional recreational facilities and implement a Transfer of Development Rights program. A TDR program would compensate landowners for the subdivision potential of their land, while channeling the development to designated growth areas.