Condos plan spurs debate, legislation

Bill aims to limit housing on Balto. Co. waterfront

April 14, 2008|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,Sun reporter

There are no condos in Bowleys Quarters.

But some residents worry that the eastern Baltimore County peninsula could eventually be overrun with them.

One marina owner's plan to build condos in the waterfront community has sparked a fierce debate. And other marina owners are seeking zoning designations that would allow them to develop homes.

To prevent more residential development, Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder has introduced a measure to remove residential zoning from properties that are designated in the future as marinas or boatyards in the Bowleys Quarters and Lower Back River Neck areas.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Maryland section about proposed Baltimore County legislation on marina development in the Bowleys Quarters area and changes to development plans gave incorrect dates for council action. The bills will be discussed at the council's April 29 work session and voted on at the May 5 legislative meeting.
THE SUN REGRETS THE ERROR

Bartenfelder says the legislation would also block residential components in planned unit developments - or PUDs - on properties rezoned for marinas or boatyards in those areas.

The proposal will be discussed tomorrow during the council's work session.

Regulations allow up to 5.5 residential units an acre on land zoned for boatyards or marinas.

"By taking [away] the residential component, it gets rid of the concern that development is spreading," said Bartenfelder, an Overlea-Fullerton Democrat.

Bill Lagna, president of the Bowleys Quarters Community Association, says residents were worried that Bartenfelder's proposal might have unintended consequences for future PUD development.

"We don't care if an owner of a marina lives on the property," Lagna said. "What we are care about is the ability to develop high-density housing in an area primarily zoned for low density and rural conservation."

The bill would limit the use of properties designated as marinas or boatyards after August. But it doesn't specifically address what is allowed on those properties if owners seek PUD designations. Some county officials say Bartenfelder's legislation, if enacted, would trump the PUD regulations because it's newer.

Boatyard or marina designations are being sought on five properties in the Bowleys Quarters or Back River Neck areas as part of the comprehensive zoning map process under way in the county.

Those property owners have said they don't intend to build houses, Bartenfelder said. The proposed zoning change would ensure they could not, he said.

The proposed measure would not apply to existing boatyards and marinas, including Galloway Creek Marina, where the owner is planning to build a 36-unit condo development.

The project was approved last year by the council as a planned unit development.

Galloway Creek touched off the debate in the community about condo development and PUDs.

Opponents remain worried about traffic congestion and fear the building could dwarf the houses along the water. And they say the condo project could set a precedent for other marina owners to sell to developers - changing the atmosphere of a place where there are still more boatyards than traffic lights.

"There's a place for condos," Lagna said. "It's just not at the end of this peninsula."

Supporters of the Galloway Creek condo project say it would be a worthy addition to the area. They say it would look nicer than the outdated buildings on the property. Some residents say that they like the idea of being able to remain in the waterfront community but not have the maintenance of a house.

Another bill dealing with the development process is being proposed by Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican, and is also scheduled to be discussed at the council's work session.

That measure says that when changes to residential development plans result in more homes, the project should go through the entire development process, rather than the more simplified procedures used for minor adjustments in development plans.

The full development process involves public hearings, notices posted on the property and the right to appeal decisions. But in cases where minor changes are being made, typically called "lot-line" adjustments, a simplified process is used.

McIntire's proposal would require owners to follow current development regulations when making significant changes to projects.

The council session tomorrow will begin at 11 a.m., after the budget presentation by the county executive.

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

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