Council may rezone with restrictions

Tonight's discussion may start ordinance for Koontz property

70 acres on Route 140

Developer's proposal calls for smaller lots, more open space

October 22, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Common Council seems to favor rezoning 70 acres of the Koontz property on Route 140, a change that would allow the developer to build on 1/4 -acre lots instead of 1/2 -acre lots and provide more open space.

But any rezoning ordinance approved by the council will likely include restrictions - such as limiting the number of houses to 188 as outlined in the concept plan filed by developers this summer - that it wants the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider when reviewing specific plans for the site.

Westminster City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. said that although the council does not usually put conditions on rezoning approvals, it could direct the city's Planning and Zoning Commission to carry out its wishes for the property.

At its meeting tonight, the council will discuss the proposal and how it wants to proceed, such as directing city staff on the contents of the rezoning ordinance.

Wyndtryst Development Corp. LLC, an affiliate of Macks & Macks Inc. of Owings Mills, wants to build 188 houses ranging from $250,000 to $350,000 on the parcel being considered for rezoning. The developer had asked the land to be rezoned to allow smaller lots, more open space and larger buffer zones.

"I think it has an excellent chance of passing," Damian L. Halstad, president of the Common Council, said of the rezoning. "The developer has made a reasonably strong case that their concept plan is the best" use of the land.

The Koontz property is a 100-acre parcel along Route 140 across from the College Square shopping center and next to the Cliveden Reach development.

Residents of Cliveden Reach - a fairly new neighborhood where houses start at $290,000 - have said that residential and commercial development of the site would increase traffic, constitute sprawl and stress the city's infrastructure.

At a public hearing in August, nearly a dozen residents, most from Cliveden Reach, spoke against the rezoning proposal. Resident C. Todd Brown criticized the city for making land-use decisions on a "piecemeal" basis with potentially harmful results.

But after reviewing plans for the development, some Cliveden Reach residents have had a change of heart.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff signed by six Cliveden Reach residents, Richard Bowie wrote, "While we are not in favor of increasing the allowed density ... we feel that we can compromise and support this rezoning with the express understanding that it is to be developed in a manner consistent to that proposed" by the developer.

Bowie would not comment for this article. But Brown said his opinion of the rezoning remains unchanged.

Because rezoning cases in Westminster are drafted as city ordinances, the Koontz proposal would have to be written, formally introduced at a council meeting and then voted on at a subsequent meeting. The ordinance could go before the council as soon as Nov. 12 and be voted on Nov. 26.

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