The Pros, Cons of Zoning Changes

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 27, 1992

Any homeowner who lives in an R-20 single family zoning district should be aware of a zoning change proposed by the Ecker administration.

This change would allow another owner to turn their single-family home into a two-family dwelling. Under Mr. Ecker's proposal, any owner in a new or existing neighborhood could add an accessory apartment, as a matter of right, and rent it to another family. If approved, this proposal will create parking problems and increase traffic on our streets. It removes stability from existing stable neighborhoods, changes the character of these neighborhoods and destroys the trust of homeowners who invested in R-20 single family districts.

Current R-20 regulations allow accessory apartments not as a matter of right, but as a special exception, which holds the homeowner to a higher standard. . . .

This proposal -- if you don't oppose it -- will certainly slip into the zoning regulations. If you want to object to this proposal, write to the Howard County Zoning Board, 3430 Courthouse Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043. For more information, call the Department of Planning and Zoning in Howard County. Hurry. You only have a few weeks.

Judy Rivkin

Ellicott City

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I don't understand why the zoning board public hearings for the Comprehensive Zoning are being held before the planning board has had an opportunity to make its recommendations on the Ecker administration's proposed complex regulations to the zoning board.

The planning board hearings ended Nov. 24 and the public was allowed to submit written testimony until Dec. 1. The zoning board public hearings began Dec. 15. How could the planning board complete its recommendations by that date?

We expect good, thoughtful recommendations from the planning board. . . . Citizen testimony could be better organized and more meaningful if we have the opportunity to understand the planning board's rationale and recommendations.

The administration's proposed changes to the zoning regulations are important to all of us. They will guide the county through years of future development. Why are we rushing the public process?

Grace Kubofcik

Ellicott City

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After attending the planning board hearings for two evenings, it is obvious that 90 percent of those testifying are against the whole idea of mixed-used centers in Howard County.

Pollution, transportation, increased crime and higher taxes, as well as serious decline in the quality of life in the targeted areas, are but a few of the public concerns. Many times at previous meetings, citizens asked why it was necessary to institute such dense zoning in the county.

No clear-cut answers were forthcoming from the Department of Planning and Zoning. The public is rightfully incensed over a general plan that they opposed in 1990 and find no merit in, now being zoned. The question, "Who is benefiting from this major change in the county?," was asked time and time again with no explanation.

It is not too far-fetched for the property owners, taxpayers and other citizens in the county to feel they are being had in order to cater to the special interests of a few. The zoning proposed is wide open to anything anyone wants to put almost anywhere, including bars, cleaning establishments, bio-technical firms, etc., even to a number of snowball stands. (Hopefully, this will be a seasonal occupation if its purpose is to broaden the tax base.)

But far more important than this is the setting that such centers will lend to drug-related violent crime. Given the fact that crime has risen approximately 8 percent countywide in the last 10 months . . . it is not out of line for the public to be more than concerned. . . .

The very placement of these centers along major routes, several near Interstate 95 and Route 29 and . . . the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, makes them ideal for drug operations. . . .

The Department of Planning and Zoning keeps saying that this is merely a plan. The kicker, however, is that once this zoning is passed, it may be implemented with little or no public safeguards.

The public has a right to know and approve of any plan public representatives put forth in their name, especially one that will drastically change the whole county. This zoning should not be passed in its present form and the public should continue to demand accountability and clear, concise, accurate answers from public employees.

It is my opinion that until these answers are forthcoming, the process should be suspended.

Mary L. Callahan

Fulton

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