Council passes zoning bill

Measure that would give more notice of projects was revised after veto


A new version of a zoning bill vetoed in March by County Executive James N. Robey was approved without debate by the Howard County Council last night.

The bill would give county residents more advance notice about unusual projects such as large new gas stations, cell phone towers and large day care centers -- called "conditional uses" under county zoning law.

The notice would come in the form of community information meetings that would have to be held before conditional-use requests are introduced, giving residents more information earlier.

Robey vetoed the previous version of the bill because of a provision requiring a 12-month wait before approved projects could be changed or altered. The county's Office of Law thought the language of that portion of the bill was unconstitutional.

It was argued by Republicans Allan H. Kittleman of the western county and Ellicott City's Christopher J. Merdon and North Laurel-Savage Democrat Guy J. Guzzone, that the provision would prevent developers from getting a foot in the door and later expanding a project beyond original expectations.

The original bill passed on a 3-2 vote, with Columbia Democrats C. Vernon Gray and Mary C. Lorsung voting against it.

Robey, however, said it could prevent changes needed by citizens for other things, such as churches, or small, in-home beauty parlors.

In the revised version of the bill passed last night, the offending language was omitted.

In other action, an attempt by Guzzone to introduce a County Council resolution urging state officials not to go forward with plans for a maglev train between Baltimore and Washington was postponed for a month last night because of a disagreement among members over scheduling.

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