An environmental contractor just outside Sykesville has asked the Carroll Circuit Court to review the mayor's and Town Council's decision last month to rezone a neighboring property for residential development.
While it's more usual to see neighborhoods trying to keep out industry, this judicial review is sought by Enviro Serve Inc. of the 7400 block of Buttercup Road, a training school for construction workers that serves the East Coast in remediation work such as asbestos and lead-paint removal.
At issue is a zoning change from industrial to residential for about 32 acres on the town border, at Route 32 and Raincliffe Road, owned by the 103-29 Limited Partnership and by Enviro Serve.
The change to residential zoning could affect Enviro Serve and other industries on adjoining properties by requiring longer setbacks from the road for future buildings. Residences with children next door could also pose a problem for them.
Another neighboring business, Northrop Grumman Corp., is expected to file a similar petition for review by the court, a spokesman said.
The 103-29 partnership petitioned the town for the change in September, and it was granted by the mayor and council June 16. The town planning commission had recommended the change after a public hearing March 1.
According to the decision under appeal, the Raincliffe petitioners noted at the hearing that their land had been zoned for residential use until 1977, when it was rezoned by the county for industrial use. The property was annexed by the town in 1988 and had been marketed since then for commercial or industrial use without success -- a situation made worse by the town's recent annexation of the 138-acre Warfield Complex on the same side of Route 32 for commercial and mixed-use development.
New wetlands preservation requirements also made the Raincliffe property more suitable for residential development, according to a project planner and landscape architect who spoke for the owners at the council's public hearing in May.
At that hearing, Northrop Grumman raised the issue of setbacks, presenting testimony that these would have to be increased under county zoning ordinances from 30 feet to a minimum of 200 feet if the rezoning were granted -- reducing its property value.
But the Town Council found the petitioner showed a need for more housing for the town's expanding population, and accepted assurances that the subdivision-approval process would ensure adequate public facilities and improvements to the intersection of Raincliffe Road and Route 32 to handle increased traffic.