Restrictive zones sought in suburbs Baltimore County hopes to revive older communities

Crowding to be prevented

Lower density to be encouraged on west side

November 03, 1995|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In a bid to relieve congestion and revive Baltimore County's older suburbs, community groups and government planners are seeking more restrictive zoning for nearly 3,000 acres amid the Beltway neighborhoods.

On the east side, the effort is aimed at encouraging construction of single-family homes in communities that are overloaded with apartments and townhouses. On the west side, residents want to prevent builders from crowding homes onto vacant land.

As part of the county's comprehensive rezoning, more than 40 neighborhood groups filed requests for zoning changes, compared with the 25 that filed petitions during the last round in 1992, said Gary L. Kerns, chief of comprehensive and community planning. The increased community involvement is a sign that the county's community conservation program is gaining strength, he said.

During the past year, County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III has targeted older communities for revitalization by giving them money to repair roads and alleys, and to spruce up commercial centers.

Rezoning land to discourage construction of apartment buildings and townhouses, while encouraging new single-family homes, is another step in the community conservation plans.

On the west side, community groups made the bulk of the requests to rezone 1,200 acres in Arbutus and Catonsville.

Generally, these groups are asking that land in their communities be rezoned to permit only two houses peracre. Such rezoning would not affect existing homes, but would limit development of vacant lots within the neighborhoods.

On the east side, community groups and county planners are trying to rezone more than 1,400 acres. Some requests call for changing the zoning from manufacturing to residential. Others seek to change the zoning to allow only single-family homes.

"The people are afraid that more townhouses will just give them more of what they have," said planner Jack Dillon, who works on the east side.

Again, existing apartments and townhouses would not be affected.

The requests are supported by the Essex-Middle River Community Conservation Plan, which called for lowering the zoning density in certain areas. They also reflect an attempt to address previous studies that show the area has three times the density of other urban parts of the county, Mr. Dillon said.

The petitions were among 432 requests received before the Oct. 31 deadline of the public input phase of the comprehensive rezoning process. A summary was presented to the county planning board yesterday.

The number of requests was far fewer than in the past. In 1992, when the recession dampened development zeal, there were 539 staff and public requests. The peak occurred in 1988 when about 1,200 requests were filed.

Planning officials had predicted that 400 to 500 petitions would be filed this year, but they were surprised that nearly one quarter of the requests came Tuesday, deluging planning staff.

The rezoning requests included some projects that had been rejected in the past.

Back again is Security Management Corp., which is seeking to increase zoning of 156 acres of land near Loch Raven Reservoir to build its Colvista condominium and townhouse project. The company asked for a zoning change in 1992 to build 3,000 units, but this time is asking for only half that.

Hayfields Inc. also has returned, with the Nicholas Mangione family asking the county to increase the zoning of 68 acres of land along Western Run Road.

Other major changes include requests by Genstar Stone Products to change the zoning on 38 acres of land on Padonia Road from light manufacturing to business and 206 acres on Pulaski Highway from manufacturing to business.

The Planning Board has until Nov. 30 to add to the list of rezoning requests. The County Council can recommend zoning changes from Dec. 1 until Jan. 15.

Public hearings will begin with the planning board in April and conclude with the county council in September. The council is to make final decisions on Oct. 17, 1996.

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