Panel to open rezoning talks

Public comment allowed at session on Liberty Reservoir land

Carroll County

April 05, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission will meet tonight to discuss the proposed rezoning of 460 acres in the Liberty Reservoir watershed for commercial or industrial use.

The county planning staff has recommended against rezoning all but 21.8 acres because of a myriad of concerns, including the lack of public water and sewer, threat of polluting the reservoir, and limited road access.

Because of concerns about pollution, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Baltimore City and metropolitan county leaders have opposed industrial development in the watershed, the chief source of drinking water for residents of Baltimore and South Carroll.

Most of the 15 parcels, predominantly zoned for residential or agricultural use, lie in the Route 140 corridor east of Westminster to the Baltimore County line. Many parcels contain wetlands and streams that feed into the reservoir.

"Just because the [planning] staff made their recommendation doesn't mean that's what we're going to do," said David L. Brauning, planning commission vice chairman. "No decision is going to be made until we get everybody's input."

He said concern about development in the reservoir's watershed was among several factors that would play into his recommendations. Rezoning is being considered at the same time the county is undertaking a review of all its zoning laws.

Forty-six properties are being considered for rezoning. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and the county's Economic Development Commission support rezoning an additional 136.6 acres among the 15 parcels at the northwest corner of Route 140 and Reese Road for industrial use. That land is zoned for agricultural use.

Unlike most work sessions, the public will be allowed to comment tonight at what will be the first in a series of public meetings to discuss the rezoning requests. Property owners are asked to limit comments to five minutes, and others are asked to keep theirs to two minutes.

After the planning commission has reviewed all 46 sites, the panel will submit its recommendations to Carroll's commissioners. The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed rezonings before taking action.

The commissioners decided to begin a comprehensive rezoning in March last year. The three-member board has said the rezoning, coupled with an accelerated approval process for small-scale business developments and reduced building permit fees, would help attract industrial and commercial growth. The county's business tax base of 12 percent is the lowest in the Baltimore region and third-lowest in the state.

Steven Horn, county director of planning, said the planning commission could submit its recommendations to county commissioners in as soon as six weeks.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the public hearing room of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.

Information: 410-386-2145.

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