Honeygo decision delayed

June 21, 1994|By Larry Carson and Pat Gilbert | Larry Carson and Pat Gilbert,Sun Staff Writers

The Baltimore County Council delayed last night for two weeks a vote on a plan that would drastically reduce development in the 3,000-acre Honeygo area and then imposed an immediate building moratorium there until a plan is finished.

Also last night, the council approved a bill regulating after-hours clubs, which have recently begun operating in the county.

The council's action on Honeygo came after the Hayden administration's last-minute introduction yesterday of 30 so-called "technical" amendments to the plan annoyed several council members who wanted time to examine them.

In addition, Catonsville's Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, wanted written assurance in the Honeygo resolutions that older county communities -- not new ones such as Honeygo -- would get first crack at public funds for infrastructure projects.

She rejected arguments by White Marsh Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, the Honeygo resolutions' sponsor, that her amendment was unnecessary because his plan would cut development in half at Honeygo, reducing infrastructure costs.

The Honeygo proposal calls for 5,556 homes, 60 percent of which would be single-family dwellings. Current zoning on the land would allow 11,000 units. The planned community, just hTC north of Perry Hall in the White Marsh/Perry Hall Growth area in the northeastern county, would cover more than 2 1/2 square miles, with 9 acres of retail stores and 37 acres of parks as well as 35 acres set aside for schools, recreation centers and other county uses.

The two-week delay, approved by a 4-3 vote, angered County Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly, who is acting as county executive while Executive Roger B. Hayden recovers from brain surgery.

"I don't understand why they're micro-managing this bill. I don't understand it," Mr. Kelly said. "This is a plan that's taken over two years to do," he said, adding that routine "housekeeping" amendments have been routinely approved by the council in the past.

Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, who made the motion to delay voting on Honeygo, denied that he was micro-managing the bill. Chairman William A. Howard 4th, R-6th, Mrs. Manley and Dundalk Councilman Donald C. Mason, D-7th, also voted for the delay.

Then, all seven council members approved the moratorium. The council had rejected more than two years ago a Hayden proposal for a three-year moratorium on building in the area. At that time, the council opted for a two-year voluntary restraint on building to allow time for creation of the Honeygo Plan and approval by the council.

The two years expired June 1, and the council was worried that, without final approval of the plan or a temporary moratorium, a few builders could use the current higher density-zoning that now exists in Honeygo to get building permits.

That's why Mr. Kelly and Mr. Gardina pushed for approval last night of the two resolutions on the Honeygo Plan. Passage of the resolutions would have been a green light for the planning board to begin changing the zoning to allow fewer homes to be built.

One Honeygo resolution asked the council to adopt the Honeygo proposal as part of the county's Master Plan, the guidebook that determines how most of the county's land will be developed. The Master Plan has been approved by the county planning board.

The second resolution instructed the planning board to begin comprehensive rezoning for Honeygo. The council enacted legislation late last month giving it authority to rezone land outside the usual four-year comprehensive rezoning process if the action is associated with a community plan amendment to the Master Plan.

The Honeygo Plan calls for an extensive reduction in the housing density established for the area during the early 1980s. The existing zoning would allow for up to 10,500 residential units -- mostly town houses and apartments.

Developed over the last 18 months, the Honeygo proposal has pitted two factions of Perry Hall residents against each other.

One group, which favors Honeygo, is concerned with schools, libraries, recreation facilities and other community resources being overwhelmed by uncontrolled development. On the other side are local landowners, who are upset because they believe the lower zoning density created by the Honeygo plan will reduce the value of their land. Developers also objected to Honeygo because it reduced the number of homes allowed.

In other business, the council approved a bill that defines after-hours clubs and makes them a special exception in major business, roadside business and light manufacturing zones. It requires that the clubs be at least 1,000 feet from a residence, church, park, child care center or school. A special zoning exception requires a public hearing.

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