Speakout

March 19, 2006

ISSUE -- The Harford County Council let stand County Executive David R. Craig's veto of the contentious comprehensive rezoning bill, despite expressing uncertainty about the how the county will move forward on the issue. Under zoning code guidelines, the veto washes away the past 15 months of planning, said Council President Robert S. Wagner. The rezoning process would have to be restarted from the beginning.

Administration officials are hopeful that a change in the zoning code will allow the county executive and council to negotiate a compromise using the applications and testimony submitted during the current rezoning process.

Craig has said he would like to see a new bill that grants less new development along Route 22 or outside of the county's designated growth area.

Despite their 5-1 vote in favor of the rezoning bill last month after making more than 50 changes to the package, three of the six voting council members expressed a willingness to work with Craig and voted to uphold the veto.

We asked what you think of the concept of revising the zoning code.

Common sense says Rte. 22 is congested

David Craig showed courage and integrity when he vetoed the comprehensive rezoning bill. Harford County has experienced runaway growth and development for years, and we are poised to see a massive increase in development as a result of APG's expansion. I believe we need a County Council that exercises responsibility, thoughtfulness, and flexibility in their proceedings, because once development is granted it cannot be undone.

My view is influenced by my daily commute along Route 22 between Bel Air and Aberdeen, where traffic already greatly exceeds the capacity of the roadway. I was appalled when I learned that the rezoning bill allowed for a large commercial project (35 acres of the "Big M" property) in Churchville where the current infrastructure cannot support the current traffic each day. If Hickory needed a Route 1 bypass, then surely Churchville needs a Route 22 bypass before any more commercial projects are permitted there.

I sincerely hope that common sense will prevail, and that a change in the zoning code will enable this County Council to do the people's business of managing growth and development in a rational, fair manner.

Clint McSherry Bel Air

Scrap amendments or let residents vote

Those members of the County Council that permitted last-minute zoning amendments, below the radar of public input, have violated the trust placed in them by the residents of Harford County. By allowing the interests of a few to supersede those of all residents, a powerful message was sent by some council members: They don't care that the residents of Harford County deserve thoughtfully planned growth!

Growth has already out-stripped the infrastructure in many areas. Anyone who commutes, shops in Bel Air on any weekend day, or has kids in our ridiculously overcrowded schools can attest to that. Carefully planned growth in Harford County is essential, and can be accomplished in a manner satisfactory to most.

However, the haphazard, self-serving rezoning actions by some council members lack integrity and have the potential to irreparably damage our quality of life. I applaud County Executive Craig for having the courage to uphold the interests of all county residents. A fair outcome would be that the rezoning plan eliminate all last-minute amendments, thus reflecting proposed zoning changes that were open to public vetting. If that can't be accomplished, then the zoning plan should be put out for vote by the residents.

Robert Hinds Forest Hill

Smaller points also contentious

I would like to thank County Executive David R. Craig for vetoing the incomprehensive rezoning bill. Much has been made of the larger infringements, but I would like to point out that there are smaller unjustified parcels that are just as contentious.

For example: Timber Lane is all zoned for agriculture, and the neighborhood is against proposed up-zoning to rural-residential rezoning, but the "Junta" decides to mar the land.

Also, I want to know why the Councilman Robert G. Cassilly, who left to serve in Iraq, is not being replaced immediately.

In response to moving the process forward, I think it would only be fair if the council was made to watch the televised hearings again and maybe this time they would hear what the people of Harford County wanted and still want.

God help us.

John Clark

Joppa

We want your opinions

ISSUE:

There is a growing nightlife buzz on Main Street in Bel Air, with more pubs and restaurants doing business than in recent years and another set to open this spring.

"This is a great place to do business," said Gina Carapico, manager of the Ropewalk Tavern. "The small streets. The old buildings. It kind of reminds you of being downtown" in Baltimore.

And it's not just bars and restaurants - there is a gourmet food store, a coffee shop with local art on the walls, and even a bike shop.

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