Zoning densities in areas of southwest Balto. Co. hold Old Catonsville, Rolling Road affected

June 08, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Catonsville area residents vow to fight for restrictions against wedging more homes in their established neighborhoods, despite the Baltimore County planning board's refusal to recommend reduced zoning densities in the county's southwest.

"This is in keeping with the whole goal of community conservation," said Chris Brennan, a board member of the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association.

The association asked the 15-member planning board to lower zoning densities on 131 acres on the south side of Edmondson Avenue between Melvin and Smithwood avenues.

"What we're trying to do is maintain the character of the neighborhood," she added. "We thought there was not going to be a problem."

The planning board reviewed 483 rezoning requests countywide before voting Thursday on final recommendations to the County Council. The board went along with requests from county officials and community leaders to lower zoning densities on hundreds of acres on the east side and endorsed lower densities on about 200 acres in the southwest.

Nevertheless, the board balked at requests from neighborhood groups and county planners to lower the zoning densities on tracts in Old Catonsville and along Rolling Road.

"In the built-out communities, we thought we would be creating problems for homeowners," said Jack Barnhart, head of the board's zoning committee.

Barnhart said the board feared that changing the zoning densities in established neighborhoods would add to the bureaucratic burden of homeowners seeking to build decks or additions.

"I believe some people are not totally aware of what happens to their land when it's down-zoned," Barnhart said.

Besides rebuffing the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association, the board declined to go along with a petition from South Rolling Road Community Association to reduce the zoning density on about 450 acres on the east and west sides of Rolling Road, south of Frederick Road.

Residents said the restrictions were needed to prevent homeowners from subdividing their large yards and building more houses.

"It is important to preserve the feel of the community, which is large homes on half-acre lots," said Norman Schmuff, president of South Rolling Road Community Association.

Residents said they worry that more houses would mar the appearance of the neighborhoods and worsen school crowding and traffic.

County planners supported the requests from both the Old Catonsville Neighborhood Association and South Rolling Road Community Association.

The planners, however, did not go along with other Catonsville groups seeking to eliminate business zoning on some parcels. The Coalition for the Preservation of Southwest Baltimore County wanted 200 acres at Spring Grove Hospital Center and 80 acres at the University of Maryland Baltimore County changed from office to residential zoning.

Gun Road Historical and Protective Association asked that the former Lockheed Martin Research Laboratory be rezoned from allowing office development to permit strictly residential construction.

County economic development officials want to keep the business zoning to bring more jobs to the area.

The planning board's recommendations will go to the County Council, which must vote on the petitions by Oct. 8.

Pub Date: 6/08/96

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