Councilman seeks county zone changes Gardina wants fewer multifamily homes in eastern areas

Honeygo project at stake

Lower densities would combat blight, official says

January 17, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Honeygo, one of Baltimore County's largest planned communities, was dealt a blow yesterday, as a key county councilman sought to limit the number of townhouses and apartments in the development near White Marsh.

Perry Hall Councilman Vincent J. Gardina -- who has virtual veto power over land issues in the area -- wants to eliminate 400 townhouses and 500 apartments from Honeygo, replacing them with single-family detached homes and businesses.

That move, and others proposed yesterday, are designed to combat congestion and prevent blight within the 5,600-unit Honeygo project and other sections of eastern Baltimore County, he said. "The main emphasis is lowering densities throughout the whole district," he said.

His petitions were among the requests submitted by County Council members yesterday for the county's comprehensive rezoning process, which occurs every four years. Council members are allowed to make final zoning decisions on land in their districts.

The Democratic councilman also is proposing to rezone 50 acres in Bowleys Quarters from a classification that allows apartments to one restricted to single-family homes. And he is asking that zoning on 100 acres in Chase be changed from a density of 5.5 houses per acre to 3.5 houses per acre.

County officials, who have been working for more than a year to revive the older neighborhoods in eastern Baltimore County, have concluded that the communities suffer from crowded, decaying housing. In the Essex-Middle River area, for example, 45 percent of the housing is rented.

When the Honeygo plan was solidified in 1994, county officials hoped it would spark affordable, high-quality, innovative developments to attract and keep young families from moving to Harford and Carroll counties and southern Pennsylvania.

But even though the 5,600 dwellings proposed for Honeygo are half the number originally proposed, Mr. Gardina said he wants to make sure the community doesn't turn into a magnet for low-income housing.

Substituting single-family detached homes for townhouses and apartments in Honeygo -- whose first buildings are planned for groundbreaking this spring -- not only will help prevent decay, but also will bring the county greater property tax revenues, he said.

He also is proposing a review of Tidewater Village apartments, a low-income complex on Saltpeter Creek in Chase, with the idea of restricting the zoning to single-family houses in the future.

"The idea is to get away from low-income rentals and move to owner-occupied projects," the councilman said.

In the Glyndon area, Councilman T. Bryan McIntire is questioning the suitability of a shopping center that is to accompany the Reisterstown Village townhouse community.

Mr. McIntire, a Republican, said he is concerned that the shopping center would hurt existing businesses in the area. But he conceded that it may be too late to make changes because work on the project has begun.

Mr. McIntire also is submitting a request to rezone 77 acres in Owings Mills Town Center from office-technical to business manufacturing. He said he is making the request for a constituent who wants parity with neighboring landowners seeking the same zoning changes.

The other county councilmen requested only minor zoning changes in their jurisdictions.

The council will have about 500 rezoning petitions to consider.

Public hearings on the proposals will begin in April and the process will conclude in October.

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