Planning Board endorses 'floating' mixed-use zoning

January 14, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

County Planning Board members are so pleased with mixed-use zoning they want to take it a step further, creating a "floating" mixed-use category.

Making its recommendations on comprehensive rezoning for eastern Howard before the county Zoning Board Tuesday night, the Planning Board endorsed the controversial mixed-use zoning concept -- with changes.

The new classification, which could combine houses, apartments, shops and businesses, has been strongly opposed by residents of the Fulton area, where an 820-acre, mixed-use site has been proposed by the county planning department.

Planning Board members suggested that the county also permit mixed-use projects on any property zoned for manufacturing (M1 and M2) or general business (B2) uses.

The floating mixed-use designation would promote redevelopment along the U.S. 1 and U.S. 40 corridors, said Kay Partridge, Planning Board chairwoman.

"The most important benefit of the MXD district is the opportunity it provides to comprehensively plan the development of key tracts of land in the county," Ms. Partridge said.

Mixed-use zoning will also help economic development and provide different types of housing, Ms. Partridge said.

The mixed-use proposal needs "certain refinements," she said, including a clarification "that the property owner does not have a right to MXD," but may apply to use it under Zoning Board-approved plans.

The Planning Board did not endorse any mixed-use sites because the first round of hearings is limited to changes in zoning regulations.

Board members will continue to meet in work sessions and hope to complete recommendations on changes to the county zoning map by the time the Zoning Board begins public hearings next month on changes to specific sites such as the Fulton mixed-use proposal.

But Ms. Partridge said she was disappointed and frustrated with the way her board is forced to speed through the process. Because of the tight schedule, the planning panel was unable to make its recommendations in time for citizens to comment on them before the Zoning Board.

"Everyone has had to work under unusual, and what I would consider really unacceptable, time constraints," Ms. Partridge said.

"What good does it do for citizens, 100 people to come and sign up, sit down here for three or four nights to testify to us if it really doesn't serve anybody?

"We are happy to do it, but somehow or other, we just are running the risk, because of a lot of pressures, of having kind of an empty process repeating itself."

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