Among the 350 pages of rewritten zoning regulations County Council members must mull before approving a comprehensive rezoning plan for eastern Howard County are five paragraphs of regulations that some county residents fear will bring vagrants to their neighborhood.
The last time this problem arose, Elkridge resident Donald Grabowski remembered, his windshield was smashed, his gas grill was stolen, and his tires were slashed.
He doesn't know who did it, but after county authorities had vacant trailers removed from the neighboring mobile home park about two years ago, the incidents stopped.
"I would get up to go to work in the morning, and I'd see these people coming out of these homes," Mr. Grabowski said.
Parties in the vacant trailers were "a nightly thing," he said. Frequently, he or members of his family who live on lots behind the trailer park would call the police to clear people out.
"We trapped 14 in one home one night. Three were runaways," Mr. Grabowski said. "It was a place that the kids could come and do anything they wanted to."
County lawyers worked out a legal settlement that had the trailers removed, but now the county administration's proposed new zoning regulations would allow abandoned mobile homes to be stored for up to six months.
That has prompted Mr. Grabowski, who owns more than 15 acres behind two Elkridge trailer parks, and some park residents to urge council members, who sit as the zoning board, to scrap the proposed regulations.
At 8 p.m. tonight in the George Howard county office building in Ellicott City, the zoning board is scheduled to hear final testimony on the proposed regulations as part of comprehensive rezoning of the eastern part of the county.
Testimony on specific changes to the county zoning map are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 and Feb. 10. Testimony on mixed-use centers is scheduled for Feb. 17.
Owners of the Elkridge Mobile Home Park could not be reached for comment. According to county zoning officials, however, the regulation change is needed by those who run the county's 13 mobile home parks.
"It's not just isolated to Elkridge Mobile Home Park," said William O'Brien, chief of zoning enforcement for the Department of Planning and Zoning. "All the parks run into the problem of people up and leaving their mobile home units."
When that happens, park owners must go through a cumbersome state-mandated legal process -- much like a mechanic's lien -- to take possession of an abandoned trailer and sell it.
The proposed regulation would give park owners six months to dispose of a trailer, during which time the vacated trailer pad could be occupied by another rent-paying trailer owner.
Opponents fear the change would clear the way for a revolving door of stored trailers. With the county's enforcement resources stretched by tight budgets, they argue, parts of trailer parks could become used-trailer lots.
Mr. O'Brien said the new regulations would guard against that possibility with the requirement that each stored trailer be licensed by the county. To get a six-month license, the park owner would have to provide a plan of the storage area and documents to prove that the state process to take possession of the trailer had begun. Such documentation would not be available for trailers that were simply being resold by the park owner, he said.