Harford County Council approves zoning package despite concerns

February 15, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Voting against the pleas of some residents and the county executive, the Harford County Council approved a series of rezoning requests last night - even though some members expressed concerns that the rezoning process has flaws that need fixing.

Among the properties granted more intense zoning were two tracts totaling about 36 acres on Route 22 between Bel Air and Aberdeen, an area that County Executive David R. Craig has said will be a crucial pipeline that requires planning as thousands of new jobs and new residents flood the area after expansion at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

A shopping center is expected to be built on the property, which has been called a "blight" by one councilman.

Last night, Councilwoman Veronica "Roni" L. Chenowith, a Republican from Fallston, backed away from her vote last week supporting the Route 22 zoning change - a result, she said, of community backlash and talk of a referendum.

She entered a motion to strike down last week's vote that put the Route 22 change in the rezoning package, but her attempt failed on a 3-3 vote last night.

Bel Air Republican Councilman Robert G. Cassilly, who voted against the Route 22 amendment last week and would have been the crucial fourth vote at Chenowith's side, was mobilized for military training over the weekend.

The rezoning package was adopted 5-1, with President Robert S. Wagner against.

Councilman Richard C. Slutzky, a Republican from Aberdeen, scolded Chenowith, calling her reversal a "political ploy" and reiterating that he believes the property owners have good intentions. He said they have 36 acres of business-zoned property and want to have the flexibility to set a shopping center back off the road.

Before the meeting, a small group of residents, who brought a horse and two chickens, gathered outside the council chambers with candles and signs asking passers-by to honk if they wanted the county to stay rural.

Afterward, Slutzky joined Councilman Dion F. Guthrie, a Democrat from Joppatowne, in criticizing the comprehensive rezoning process.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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