Council cool to restaurant zoning change Plan would allow fast-food franchises in business area

March 25, 1998|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A proposal to include fast-food restaurants in areas with planned employment center zoning in Howard County appears to be cooling faster than a hamburger on the ride home.

Three County Council members expressed concern about adding fast-food restaurants as permitted uses in the business-oriented PEC zoning during a public work session Monday night.

Such zoning -- designed to fall between business and industrial -- allows office buildings, warehouses and manufacturing.

"I am absolutely opposed to free-standing restaurants," said Councilman Darrel E. Drown. "You don't want to emphasize that this is a Burger King with a building there."

Added member Dennis R. Schrader: "You could have a gas station and a fast-food restaurant on every corner."

Councilman C. Vernon Gray also objected to the proposal by Richard Talkin, a prominent land-use attorney who represents Hopkins Road Limited Partnership, which owns a 100-acre parcel in Fulton that is zoned PEC and is seeking development proposals.

Last week, Talkin had urged the council to permit fast-food restaurants as a benefit for people who work in PEC zones. The proposal would allow restaurants with dining rooms and carryouts with less than 30 seats.

Officials from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), which is adjacent to the Hopkins Road-owned tract, also opposed the fast-food use.

"PEC districts are intended to provide a campus-like setting with compatible uses in an aesthetic manner, and fast-food restaurants go against that," said Dee Reese, an APL spokeswoman.

Introduced in 1985, PEC zoning was supposed to attract research and development companies and corporate headquarters of business giants to Howard. But local officials have conceded that the zoning has been a failure.

The legislation before the council would expand the zoning category to include banks, restaurants and limited retail, such as gas stations. The council is expected to approve a fast-food-free version of the bill April 6.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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