Baltimore Co. zoning is little changed

October 16, 1992|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

Voting on more than 600 zoning petitions last night yielded few significant changes in Baltimore County's comprehensive zoning map.

The session conducted by the County Council was part of the local government's quadrennial review of land use, and the members hardly deviated from earlier recommendations by the Office of Planning and Zoning and the Planning Board.

On a 6-1 vote, the council rejected a request by southwestern county citizens to reduce the zoning on 83 acres owned by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Southwest Community Coalition, which filed the zoning petition, opposes UMBC's plans to build a research park on the land.

Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, who represents the area and agrees with her constituents, cast the lone vote for changing the zoning.

She also cast the only vote in favor of a community request to down-zone more than 200 acres at the state's Spring Grove Hospital Center. Although there is no plan to close the hospital or develop the site, the community wanted more restrictive zoning limiting it to residential usage.

In a closely watched Towson issue, the council voted to rezone the 160-acre Country Club of Maryland on Stevenson Lane to allow a maximum of 560 homes.

Councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, said the owner has agreed to a deed restriction barring development of the property before the year 2001.

Although the club's owners say they have no desire to sell or develop the property, residents in 10 neighboring communities were worried about the current zoning, which allowed for as many as 800 homes there.

The Knollwood Donnybrook Community Association asked that the property be rezoned to limit it any future building to 160 homes, while The Planning Board recommended zoning for 320.

This year's review has been markedly different from that of 1988, when communities and developers clashed repeatedly.

"We took a rather conservative approach in our recommendations on the rezoning requests," said P. David Fields, director of the Office of Planning and Zoning.

Mr. Fields said his office told people seeking rezoning petitions how the agency would deal with certain issues.

"For example, one of the goals was to protect the older neighborhoods in the county from encroachment from commercial or industrial uses," Mr. Fields said. "Another example was that we were not going to open up the rural areas of the county through rezoning for major development."

The sluggish economy also affected the rezoning cycle, Mr. Fields said. Zoning requests for development were down. And, the county's own financial woes limited the building of public utilities and other services related to residential growth.

"In the late-1970s and early- to mid-1980s there was emphasis on growth and development," said Mr. Fields.

"That came to a head in the comprehensive rezoning cycle of 1988. We no longer can be considered a significant growth county."

Other key rezoning issues included:

* 1st District -- The council approved a request by the Greater Oella Community Association to reduce the number of houses that could be built on 200 acres in the community.

* 2nd District -- The council rejected a request from Baltimore to rezone land around the Cloisters Children's Museum for commercial use. The city wanted to refurbish the mansion housing the museum.

* 3rd District -- The council turned down a proposed 3,000-unit housing development on watershed land at York and Phoenix roads, and denied rezoning of 970 acres of land near the Parkton landfill for a golf course and residential development.

* 4th District -- The council approved rezoning of a 12-acre wooded tract at Loch Raven and Goucher boulevards to make way for a four-story office building. Residents in the Glendale and Glenmont neighborhoods initially opposed the plan, but have since agreed to a compromise to allow three acres to be developed. The remaining acres would remain wooded and be donated to the county.

* 6th and 7th districts -- Efforts to effectively zone the increasingly incompatible mix of industry and homes. Planners suggested reducing housing density on some parcels, restricting manufacturing uses on others and employing a new category -- the service employment zone -- to create a buffer of offices and warehouses.

There were no significant zoning requests or changes in the 5th district, which includes the Perry Hall and White Marsh areas.

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