Frozen in time?

Quarry reclamation: Baltimore County councilman raises legitimate issue about special status for dig sites.

July 24, 1999

BALTIMORE County Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz wants to stop treating developers of closed quarries differently than other developers, and he may have a point. Quarry plans are good for 30 years -- compared to five for other development plans -- and the council can't change their zoning, as it can on all other land.

Mr. Kamenetz's proposed legislation to repeal quarries' special status under the law deserves serious attention, because it raises a legitimate question: Why should plans for the future use of quarries extend beyond even the county's master plan, which is revised every 10 years?

The main target of Mr. Kamenetz's legislation is the 286-acre Greenspring Quarry, which is owned by Arundel Corp.

In 1984, Arundel won approval for a plan to transform Greenspring into a mixed-use development with 757 homes, more than 300,000 square feet of offices and shops and possibly a 125-room inn. The quarry's pit would become a 40-acre lake, up to 335 feet deep.

Arundel signed covenants promising to close its quarrying operations by the end of this year. Community groups agreed to support Arundel's requests in the county's 1984 comprehensive rezoning process.

But four years ago, Arundel received county approval to extend its plans to 2015, as the current law allows.

Mr. Kamenetz contends that hundreds of homes built near the Arundel quarry have so altered the community that the original plan should be re-reviewed. Baltimore County's quadrennial comprehensive zoning review is about to begin, and Mr. Kamenetz wants to include these quarries in the process.

Indeed, it isn't clear why quarries are seemingly immune from long-term planning and zoning decisions. Mr. Kamenetz's proposed legislation merits strong consideration.

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