Harford Comprehensive Zoning headed for County Council

Legislation to enact Harford County’s countywide Comprehensive Zoning Review is expected to be introduced to the County Council at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman’s administration has finalized its recommendations on the 112 individual rezoning requests submitted by property owners and posted them on the Comprehensive Zoning page of the county website, spokesperson Cindy Mumby said.

Also posted on the website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/2001/2017-Comprehensive-Zoning-Review are the decisions of the Planning Advisory Board on each request, which were made during a public meeting on Aug. 9.

“To bring transparency to this process, the Harford County Comprehensive Zoning Review Log is readily available online for anyone to see,” Mumby said in an emailed statement. “It shows each application, what was requested by property owners and what the Planning Advisory Board and P&Z [Planning and Zoning Department] recommended. Also included are the assessments upon which P&Z’s recommendations were based.”

Both the administration’s recommendations and the advisory board actions will be made part of the incoming legislation; however, it is the seven member County Council that has the final say on each of the 112 rezoning requests, which the council can approve, modify or reject.

Of the 112 rezoning requests that were reviewed, the administration approved 56 percent, Mumby said. A handful of others were withdrawn by the applicant before the review concluded.

“The county executive believes that the recommendations going to the County Council on Tuesday strike a good balance between preservation and growth, while considering our existing infrastructure,” Mumby said. “It’s a balance between protecting communities and our quality of life, and increasing opportunities for economic growth over the next decade.”

According to statistics supplied by Mumby, the planning and zoning staff’s recommended changes affect 400 acres, or 0.1 percent of the county’s more than 237,000 acres, excluding Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Among the requests received outside the Development Envelope, P&Z recommended “upzoning” from AG to something else on 2.7 acres. The envelope is a long-standing designated growth area that roughly parallels the Route 24 and Route 40 corridors, forming what has been likened to an inverted letter T when viewing a county map.

There was one request to upzone 121 acres of agricultural zoned property in Creswell to low density R-1 residential (Issue F-003) that was not recommended for approval by P & Z, Mumby said.

A tentative schedule provided to The Aegis by the County Council’s administrator earlier this month calls for a least one public work session to be held later in September, followed by at least two public hearings in October.

The hearings will be held at locations to be determined, most likely high schools, similar to the way the council holds its spring budget hearings.

Enactment of the legislation would then follow in November. Like any legislation, it still would be subject to veto by the county executive.

Once finally approved, there would be a 60-day period to allow for the legislation to be petitioned to referendum by the public before it takes full effect.

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