County's rezoning plan still has no Wal-Mart

September 30, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

The county administration's proposals for rezoning eastern Howard would reject yet another request to allow two warehouse-size stores at U.S. Routes 40 and 29, an official told Ellicott City residents last night.

Joseph Rutter, county director of planning and zoning, gave members of the Northern St. John's Lane Community Association a preview of his department's petition for comprehensive rezoning.

Although the petition is not going to be completed until next week, he assured them that a rezoning sought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would not be on the proposed map, despite a second request from the property owner to include the change.

The company wants to build a Wal-Mart department store and a Sam's Club wholesale outlet at the site.

"We didn't recommend it in the last case and we are not putting it in the petition," Mr. Rutter told the audience of about 50 people at the St. John's Lane Elementary School.

The news was welcomed by association members, who had taken a position against the rezoning when Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, asked that the land be rezoned individually in August 1991.

The county has recommended several alternative sites to Wal-Mart, including one just two miles south at U.S. 29 and Route 100, but the company has rejected them.

"Hurray for our side!" Cindy Wagner said last night.

Mrs. Wagner had testified against Wal-Mart during 10 nights of ++ hearings before the County Council, which was sitting as the Zoning Board. The board unanimously denied the petition July 29 on the grounds that Wal-Mart and property owner Nicholas Mangione did not prove the legal requirement of a mistake in zoning or a change in the character of the neighborhood.

Last night, some residents voiced reservations about what would become of the Mangione property under the administration's proposal, which would devote half of the property to apartment use.

"I think we're inundated with apartments," Mary-Ellen Peters said after the meeting. "I think it creates a high-crime problem."

During the meeting, Mrs. Peters told Mr. Rutter apartments are "unsightly" and charged that "every one of your drug busts are in . . . apartments."

But Mrs. Wagner said she did not mind changing the zoning from office/research to apartments.

"I'm OK with that," she said. "In our community, it's more of the same."

Last night's meeting was the first community discussion of the eastern comprehensive rezoning process, which could take until March to complete. A new zoning map and regulations for the western county were signed by the Zoning Board on Sept. 18.

Mr. Rutter also told residents that another controversial project, Waverly Woods II in Marriottsville, would be allowed under the administration's plan.

The package of zoning changes would allow that development, with about 1.7 million square feet of office or other commercial space, an 8.5-acre shopping center, and 937 houses and apartments around an 18-hole public golf course.

The Zoning Board also is hearing that case as an individual rezoning request. The board will hear its ninth evening of testimony at 8 p.m. today in the Banneker Room of the Howard County Office Building.

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