Balto. County planners see decline in rezoning requests

October 16, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County planners say rezoning requests declined in this year's Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, likely because of a glut of commercially zoned property and a dearth of undeveloped residential land.

Yesterday was the last day for residents and property owners to file requests to rezone property in the county. By the end of the day, about 400 petitions had been filed with the Planning Department.

County planners and council members still have the opportunity to petition for rezoning, but the total is likely to be well below the 619 requests filed in the last comprehensive process four years ago, said Community Planning Director Jeff Long.

Planners have long believed that the county has more than enough commercial property to meet residents' needs, and decades of development controls have left the county with relatively little open land for residential building, so there are fewer opportunities to request increased density.

The result, Long said, is that property owners have found it much more difficult to win new zoning than in the past.

"It's difficult to demonstrate the need, and on a lot of the properties that have been perennial issues over the years, people have just learned that it's simply not going to happen, so they've looked at other ways to make use of their properties," Long said.

Although the number of requests is down this time, the number of acres up for possible rezoning has increased over the last cycle, Long said, mostly as a result of large-scale requests from community associations.

For example, the Ruxton/Riderwood/Lake Roland Community Association filed a request yesterday to reduce the allowable density in their neighborhood. The area, which has a number of large lots and relatively permissive zoning, has seen construction of housing increase in recent years. The association's request is an attempt to slow the process.

"Our community is at a significant crossroads," the association's board wrote in a letter to residents, mailed this week. "Either we act together to curb infill development or we let the issue pass and see the character of this area change."

Bill Libercci, zoning chairman of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, said that group made several requests this year for downzoning (reducing the density allowed under zoning) of both residential and commercial properties to prevent existing business uses from becoming more intensive and to provide larger lots in some areas.

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