Balto. County moratorium fails

Council defeats measure to delay housing development near Towson country club

Baltimore & Region


The Baltimore County Council narrowly defeated a measure last night that would have imposed a building moratorium in a community where a developer plans to construct houses on land owned by a Towson country club.

The proposal, which would have placed a four-month moratorium on a swath of land that includes property owned by the Country Club of Maryland, fell on a 4-3 vote.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina said he expected his colleagues to knock down his bill "primarily because they do not believe in the philosophy" of using the moratorium the way he proposed. "The problem is, without this particular tool, we don't have any alternatives to deal with these kinds of problems."

His bill was designed to delay plans for 56 duplex houses to be built on 16 acres of open space owned by the country club. Residents in surrounding neighborhoods say the project is too dense for their Idlewylde community. Gardina proposed the moratorium as a way to give him more time to find money to try to preserve the land through the purchase of the club's development rights.

In the past, the County Council went along with freezes on development in particular communities to address such problems as failed septic systems or to plan for growth. But several council members said last week that they were squeamish about the thought of using a moratorium to delay a particular project.

Councilmen Kevin Kamenetz, Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, Kenneth N. Oliver and T. Bryan McIntire, the lone Republican, voted against the measure.

Gardina said his next move would be to work with residents on a community plan for Idlewylde -- an approach that could be used to seek through zoning changes a reduction in the number of homes allowed. The plan would have to be approved by the Planning Board and the County Council.

Community plans typically take six months to a year to complete, but Gardina said he wants a plan in place within 60 days before any site plans are submitted to the county.

In other business, the council, by a 6-1 vote, approved reducing the density of the county's RC 5 zoning classification. The number of units allowed for land under that zoning classification went from 0.667 per acre to 0.5 per acre. Gardina voted against the bill, saying it might lead to "suburban sprawl."

The bill's sponsor, Kamenetz, said after the meeting that he sponsored the bill at the request of constituents.

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