Eleven west county property owners will have to go back to the drawing board and redesign their subdivisions with smaller lots because of the county's new rural conservation zoning.
The owners had to legally record their lots or get out of the planning process Wednesday -- the deadline for grandfathering lots under the old rural zoning category.
Developers of two of the larger proposed subdivisions, the 170-acre McKendree Estates in Glenwood and a 108-acre portion of Warfield's Grant in Daisy, notified county planners that they have opted to build residential developments under new zoning rules approved Sept. 18 by the County Council. Under the new rules, developers will have to cluster houses on smaller lots, leaving large open parcels in rural western Howard.
"We've been patiently awaiting the passage of this law, which at least gives us the parameters of acceptable development," said Dick Pettit, vice president of Gaithersburg-based Pettit & Griffin Inc., developer of McKendree Estates. "We're not at all opposed to cluster development. We think it's very appropriate out in that part of the county."
The new comprehensive rezoning plan eliminated a requirement that all residential developments had minimum three-acre lots, replacing it with rural conservation (RC) and rural residential (RR) zoning classifications designed to preserve farmland and other open space.
But for developers who had nearly completed the subdivision process under the old rules, it made sense to meet the Wednesday deadline, said Jim Schulte, vice president of Security Development in Ellicott City.
Security went ahead and paid fees, bonded and recorded 16 single-family lots in its 85-acre Wellington subdivision Wednesday.
It was among 12 subdivisions recorded during the month before the deadline.
Forty-six homes have already been built at Wellington, and the final plan for the second section was all but paid for when the comprehensive rezoning of western Howard was completed.
"The first section was not completely sold out, so I suppose that if we had not had the deadline, we would have waited," Mr. Schulte said.
If it had missed the deadline, the company could have lost between $2,500 to $3,000 per lot in engineering and other costs, Mr. Schulte said.