Harford land-use proposal offered

Planners seek to keep growth area same, end family conveyance of lots

October 14, 2003|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

Harford County will not expand the boundaries of its designated growth area in the next six years, according to a draft plan on land use issued by the planning and zoning department.

The plan also calls for phasing out conveyances of lots to relatives in rural areas by 2007, protecting sensitive well field areas and amending the zoning code to allow greater citizen participation.

"The No. 1 comment we had gotten at the kickoff meetings and workshops was concern about whether the development envelope was going to expand," said Anthony McClune, deputy director of the planning department.

Residents can review the plan this week onthecounty'sWebsite(http://www.co.ha.md .us/planningzoning/LandUsePlan/DraftPlan.html), and by next week, in public libraries around the county.

Judy Blomquist, president of Friends of Harford, a grass-roots group that tracks growth issues in the county, said yesterday that she was reserving comment until the group finished its study of the proposal.

The planning department is holding a series of public meetings next month to get feedback on the draft plan. The department's goal is to present the plan to the County Council for adoption in March, McClune said.

The plan includes an inventory of residential land capacity, both in the designated growth area concentrated around Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, and outside it. About 18,762 developable units exist inside the growth areas, the plan says, and about 12,636 remain in agricultural areas.

McClune said that while the county needs a suitable number of lots to develop, research shows "there was sufficient land [for growth] without having to do expansion at this time."

But the big question mark for planners is family conveyances, a provision since 1977 in agriculturally zoned areas that allows landowners to parcel out lots to spouses, brothers, sisters and children. That leeway allows properties that are usually zoned to have one house for every 10 acres to be developed at potentially much higher densities - and county officials acknowledge they don't know how many of the rights exist.

"We have no real count of how many are out there potentially," McClune said.

Councilman Lance C. Miller, a Republican who represents the north county, said he has concerns about owners losing property rights but that the county needs to "get a handle" on the conveyances.

Miller added: "How can you possibly have a good comprehensive master plan if you don't know how many houses you can build?"

Residents can discuss the plan with county officials in a series of roundtable discussions, the first of which will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Fallston Middle School cafeteria. For information and a full meeting schedule: 410-638-3103.

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