Rezoning hearings for eastern county to continue Several changes face opposition

March 29, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Public hearings on the comprehensive rezoning of eastern Howard will continue this week with a Zoning Board meeting tonight that may spill over to tomorrow night to accommodate people who complained about the difficulty of attending daytime hearings.

Opponents are fuming that the Zoning Board completed testimony on the six controversial mixed-use zoning sites with two daytime hearings Feb. 17 and March 18. Only about 40 of 100 people who signed up had time to speak at the March 18 hearing, for instance.

"It's almost impossible for most citizens to come to a daytime hearing, and the council is fully aware of that," said John W. Taylor, president of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth. "I think scheduling the meeting during the day was a deliberate attempt to cut the citizens out of the process, and unfortunately they succeeded in doing just that."

Mr. Taylor, who was among those unable to take time off from work, was not there to respond when Chairman C. Vernon Gray called his name.

Mr. Gray has maintained that County Council members' many responsibilities, which include sitting as the Zoning Board and the liquor board, make it very difficult to schedule all hearings in the evening.

One proposal that is expected to produce a lot of opposition is the rezoning of 4,320 acres scattered throughout eastern Howard, most of it currently half-acre residential zoning, to residential-environmental development (R-ED).

The R-ED zoning category, which would allow the clustering of two homes per net acre of land in order to avoid environmentally sensitive terrain and historic features, has already drawn fire from citizens' groups in Elkridge and Savage.

Zoning Board members were asked to ensure that the new category would not allow developers to build more homes than previously possible because rough terrain made development difficult. The board has already voted to kill a similar zoning category, R-ED3, which would have allowed three homes per net acre.

Other changes that are expected to draw opposition would shift tracts that are currently zoned for three-acre residential lots to half-acre lot zoning in Fulton, Clarksville and western Ellicott City.

The comprehensive rezoning is done about every seven years to make zoning conform to the county's 20-year general plan for growth.

The last general plan was approved by the County Council in 1990, and western rezoning was completed in September.

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