Rezoning bill to be focus of hearing

Council to get testimony from public tomorrow

A vote is expected Feb. 2

Howard County

January 19, 2004|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Once every 10 years, Howard County undergoes comprehensive rezoning to redirect future growth and development. And after months of discussion and debate over more than 180 zoning changes for more than 3,000 acres, county councilmen are reviewing the bill with an eye toward refinements that still need to be made.

"We've got to find an endgame here. We've got to put the thing to rest even though there are some issues that are still going to require work," said council Chairman Guy Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat.

At the council's monthly public hearing tomorrow, members will listen to testimony on all proposed text amendments. They will also hear testimony on amendments that have not been discussed at previous hearings or that suggest a higher intensity than previously discussed, said council administrator Sheila M. Tolliver.

Three councilmen have submitted amendments for a former Superfund site on Meadowridge Road, each of which would result in different outcomes for the properties.

People can offer testimony about the suggestions for the "community center transition" (CCT) district, which allows 26 uses that include senior housing, religious facilities and some offices, and the "residential senior-institutional" district, which permits 13 uses that include senior housing, religious facilities and community institutions such as museums.

Similarly, the councilmen will hear about a proposal for CCT at Routes 100 and 103.

Ellicott City Republican Christopher J. Merdon had originally suggested that the properties and others along Route 100 could be a good location for corporate headquarters, but later submitted an amendment to strike those properties from the rezoning process.

It made more sense to wait and conduct a master plan of the area, he said, rather than rushing a decision about rezoning. Waiting also would allow the county time to determine who owns some parcels.

"It's obviously a crucial intersection of the county," he said.

Members will accept written testimony until they vote on the bill, which they are expected to do Feb. 2.

To make the deadline, the council members hope to avoid new amendments that have not been discussed by the county Planning Board or County Council. Howard's code dictates that such novel amendments will be considered "substantive" and require an additional public hearing.

But the councilmen can file nonsubstantive amendments until Jan. 29, Tolliver said. They can file amendments to the amendments as well. Members will continue to discuss the bill at work sessions scheduled Thursday, Jan. 27 and 29.

Western Howard Republican Allan H. Kittleman said he planned to submit an amendment to remove all proposed changes to the planned golf course community district, including increased building heights.

The zone was created in the 1980s for Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City. Mangione Family Enterprises, which owns Turf Valley, had requested increased density and taller buildings after it closed its third golf course.

After neighbors raised concerns about crowded roads and schools, however, Kittleman entered an amendment by the Dec. 31 deadline that removed the density request.

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