Balto. County groups object to proposed relaxation of zoning regulations for B&Bs

Planning Department hopes to increase tourism

November 07, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Three Baltimore County community groups are raising concerns over proposed zoning regulations that would ease restrictions on the establishment of bed-and-breakfast inns.

The county Planning Department drew up the proposed inn regulations recently, hoping to tap into the tourist industry nationwide. The county now has one bed-and-breakfast.

The two key provisions of the rules would be raising the maximum number of rooms allowed at an inn from 12 to 18 and removing a limit of 16 guests at one time. But what has caused the most concern for the communities was a proposed change that would allow creation of "home stay" bed-and-breakfasts of three rooms or fewer without obtaining a use permit.

"We're supportive of a lot of the legislation, but it really does affect every community from Lansdowne to Dundalk," said Jack Dillon, executive director of Valleys Planning Council Inc., a preservation group.

The "home stay" establishments could affect factors such as neighborhood parking, Dillon said.

"Many of the proposed changes may be to the detriment of our communities," he said.

Melanie Anson of Sudbrook Park Inc. is concerned over the impact that the proposed rules might have in county historic districts.

Under current rules and lot-size requirements, 18 homes in the Sudbrook Park Historic District could become bed-and-breakfast inns. The proposed rules, with a lower lot-size threshold, would allow 80 homes to meet the criteria.

"If adopted as proposed, these changes would open the door so wide that almost every single house along a major arterial, in the historic district or designated as an historic structure, could become a B&B," Anson said.

The Community Conservation Action Group of Towson also joined in expressing concern. The three groups appeared last week at a public hearing before the county Planning Board.

Group leaders asked the board to hold another public hearing to give community groups time to study the proposed regulations and their impact. The board takes no action at the public hearings.

Anne M. Pomykala, who operates the Gramercy Mansion bed-and-breakfast in Stevenson, spoke in favor of the new provisions. "They are indeed a tourist attraction," Pomykala said. "It has a tremendous benefit for the county."

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