Residents' anger over rezoning may spur law Balto. Co. would require telling neighbors of petitions

November 10, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Controversy over a proposed 50-acre housing development in Jacksonville has prompted the chairman of the Baltimore County Council to seek a law requiring that residents be notified when adjacent properties are up for rezoning.

Neighbors of the proposed Locksley Conserve near Manor Road and Jarrettsville Pike were outraged when they learned that the zoning had been changed on the former Christmas tree farm, increasing the development potential from two to 26 houses.

Their anger has led Council Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder -- a Fullerton Democrat who approved the zoning change during last year's comprehensive rezoning -- to push for notification.

"Unless people really stay on top of things, they might not know," he said. "You've got to put something in people's hands."

County planners had supported the property owner's request as being consistent with zoning on adjacent land, and Bartenfelder thought neighbors did not oppose the project.

"I was reluctant to rezone any land in the rural area," Bartenfelder said. "But the Greater Jacksonville Association had no complaint."

He later learned, however, that residents next to the proposed Locksley development had not been informed of the project.

Ribbons put on trees by surveyors in the summer were the first clue many had that the land was going to be developed.

"I was standing on my deck one day and noticed orange ribbons were attached to the trees," said Bill Malstrom, who lives beside the proposed development. "I wondered, 'What's going on out there?' "

To avoid such misunderstandings, Bartenfelder is proposing a law that would require anyone seeking a zoning change during the comprehensive rezoning process to notify adjacent property owners of the petition.

Though the Planning Board and County Council hold public hearings on rezoning requests, many residents never know that properties are rezoned until it is too late, Bartenfelder said.

He said the legislation, which is being written, might be introduced Nov. 17 at the council's next meeting.

The new law would not help opponents of the Locksley Conserve, who will try to persuade county officials to change the zoning or modify the development plan to reduce the number of houses.

Last week, more than 100 residents attended a community meeting to protest the project, saying it would burden roads and threaten streams and wetlands.

Developer Barbara Andrews said she understands the neighbors' anger over the zoning change and believes Bartenfelder's proposal to notify property owners of zoning petitions would be a good idea "in some cases."

But Andrews said she has no intention of reducing the size of the Locksley Conserve, which has been reduced to 22 houses on 2-acre lots.

A second community meeting is scheduled next week.

Malstrom said if Bartenfelder's legislation had been in place last year, the community would not be facing this battle.

Pub Date: 11/10/97

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