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Harford council introduces comprehensive zoning legislation

The final leg of Harford County’s 2017 Comprehensive Zoning Process kicked off Tuesday night with the County Council’s introduction of Bill 17-015, the recommended zoning changes for more than 100 properties.

The 113-page bill includes the the Department of Planning and Zoning and the citizen Planning Advisory Board’s recommendations on zoning changes requested by the owners of 112 properties, as well as the maps showing each property.

The four-member board agreed with most of the planning department’s recommendation when the Planning Advisory Board met in early August. They voted against a few recommendations, such as supporting a property owner’s request to up-zone land in Joppa from residential to commercial-industrial, despite planning and zoning’s recommendation to leave it residential.

The council has the final say on each requested change, however, and council members can approve or reject, or even modify them.

The bill is titled “Adoption of Zoning Maps,” as the bill is slated to amend the county’s official zoning maps that were adopted during the last rezoning in 2009. The county must update its zoning maps every eight years.

The maps would then become the “2017 Official Zoning Maps” for Harford County, according to the bill.

A council work session on the comprehensive zoning is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26 in the council chambers at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air, Council President Richard Slutzky announced Tuesday.

Councilman Jim McMahan, who read the introduction to Bill 17-015 into the record, announced there will be two public hearings on the legislation. They are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 2 at Aberdeen High School and Thursday, Oct. 5 at Bel Air High School. Both meetings will be at 6:30 p.m.

It is anticipated the council will vote on the legislation in November.

Slutzky said after the meeting he cannot predict what the council will decide as the legislation moves forward. He noted members can modify the recommendations of the county administration that are contained in the bill.

He encouraged residents to participate in the public hearings.

“We hold these meetings with the hope that people would participate in the process,” Slutzky said.

The public has 60 days after adoption of the legislation to seek a referendum on the bill before it takes effect. The county executive can also veto the legislation, like any other bill adopted by the council.

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