Council members to hear proposal on Fulton mixed-used development Zoning issue to be considered

January 19, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Residents who pleaded with the Zoning Board last week t do away with mixed-use developments proposed in the 1990 General Plan are likely to take their case to the County Council tonight in an 8 o'clock public hearing.

Although the Zoning Board and the council are made up of the same people, the five elected officials assume a different nature when changing functions.

As Zoning Board members, they are unapproachable outside of public hearings. They refuse to discuss a case in person or on the telephone with anyone other than their staff. All correspondence is returned unread to senders. The aloofness is designed assure that the zoning process remains untainted by so-called ex-parte conversations.

As council members, they have no such restriction on ex-parte conversations. Indeed, the reverse is true. Council members want to be accessible to constituents and can be lobbied any time, any place.

The action bringing their Zoning Board sphere into their County Council orbit is a resolution by Charles C. Feaga, R-5th.

Mr. Feaga wants to amend the 1990 General Plan to eliminate an 820-acre mixed-use site in Fulton and use all but a small portion of it for single-family homes.

The mixed-use concept calls for shops, houses, apartments and businesses to be closely joined together in the same development.

In addition to Fulton, three other areas -- Jessup, north Laurel and southern Ellicott City -- were designated on the General Plan as mixed-use centers.

Residential opposition to the concept has been vehement. Mr. Feaga's resolution, if amended to delete all mixed-use centers from the General Plan, would enable council members to back away from the idea.

Residents testifying at tonight's public hearing are expected to call for such an amendment. Council members can discuss the proposal privately with constituents -- something they are unable to do when sitting as the Zoning Board.

In addition to the mixed-use resolution, the council will hear testimony on 10 other pieces of legislation tonight, including a bill that would allow the county to audit the records of mobile home park owners to verify that rental taxes have been correctly calculated and reported.

The council will also hear testimony on a resolution to approve a $6.4 million loan from the state requested by the Henry J. Knott Development Company. The company wants to construct 103 new units for the elderly at its Heartlands community in Ellicott City.

The council is also being asked to approve a multiyear lease agreement with the state for a drug and alcohol halfway house at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup.

The council will recess the public hearing briefly to vote on a proposal to refund $925,000 in industrial revenue bonds initially issued to the Keebler Company. The council will vote on the remaining legislation Feb. 1.

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