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North County's zoning changes trigger strong reaction

Archdiocese of BaltimoreTodd Huff

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff, who represents the largely rural 3rd District, had said his decisions on the 71 requests for rezoning in his district would not please everybody.

He was right.

At the Aug. 28 County Council hearing, Huff and the Council voted on 296 rezoning issues filed in the county's Comprehensive Zoning Map Process.

Huff, who is in his first term as councilman, turned down a request for upzoning to allow more dense development on the 66-acre Mt. Carmel Tree Farm in Parkton, but upzoned Nancy Fait's 115 acres off Phoenix Road.

He did not agree with the Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council's three requests to lower density on 1,000 acres in Monkton, Parkton and White Hall. He voted to follow the Planning Board's recommendations to leave the acreage the same.

"This is the first time in many CZMP cycles that no land was downzoned to save rural lands," said Kirsten Berger, president of the Sparks-Glencoe group. "I'm not surprised, but I'm very disappointed."

Four years ago, then councilman T. Bryan McIntire downzoned 1,336 acres requested by the same group.

Huff also agreed with the Planning Board's recommendations to give Obrecht Properties a zoning change on 19 acres on York Road in Sparks to allow 80 townhomes on land zoned for office buildings.

"This is devastating," said Karen Goshaney, who lives on York Road across from the property and collected 1,100 signatures on a petition against the change. "Huff ran on a platform that he wouldn't turn over McIntire's decisions. McIntire didn't change Obrecht's zoning last time. This is a slap in the face."

The owners of the Manor Tavern in Monkton received a partial victory. They wanted to have their 5-acre parcel changed from agricultural and business local/commercial rural to business major. Instead, Huff removed the commercial rural restrictions but left it business local and agricultural.

"We'll have to wait and see what this means," said Ralph Rigger, who spearheaded opposition to the change.

Another compromise was Huff's decision to upzone only 30 of 219 acres on Belfast Road in Sparks owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Archdiocese plans a cemetery on a portion of the site and Huff changed zoning for just that portion.

The county's planning staff will update the Log of Issues to include the Aug. 28 votes sometime this week. The listing will be available online at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/planning/zoning/2012czmp/issuelog.html

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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