The -undeveloped land is bounded by Route 924 (Emmorton Road) on the east side, and many residents who live in the vicinity of Route 924 have been concerned about the impact on local traffic, as well as nearby Patterson Mill Middle and High schools.

"They believed that the passing of that legislation would prevent Walmart from building their store there on 924, which was totally incorrect," Guthrie explained.

The councilman said the legislation would have forced Walmart to "jump through some more hoops here and there," but it would not have prevented the store from being built altogether.

"Passing that bill would have sent a wrong message to the citizens," Guthrie said.

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Goal of the bill

McMahan said before last week's public hearing that the bill "was never introduced to impede any particular development."

The councilman explained in prepared remarks that it was meant to deal with development in areas zoned B3, which he said are "literally shrinking" in their capacity to accommodate projects.

"It has been labeled 'the Walmart bill,' and that is so totally wrong," McMahan told The Aegis later. "The bill was not designed to be all these terrible things that people are saying."

A handful of people spoke against the bill during the public hearing. They characterized it as anti-business and unfair to Walmart, by changing the rules after the company had already applied to build.

"Jim's just about 40 years behind his times," Bel Air South resident George Marll, who lives off Emmorton Road, said of McMahan. "He could have avoided [development impacts] back in the '60s if he came out with something like this."

Five amendments were introduced during the legislative session portion of last week's meeting.

Two of them, which were introduced by McMahan, Boniface and Woods, were described by McMahan as "housekeeping amendments" to clear up language in the chart of permitted uses for stores larger than 75,000 square feet in various zoning areas.

Councilman Chad Shrodes said during the discussion that permitted uses in the bill had "huge ramifications" for projects in areas outside the B3 zones.

"It just clearly shows that, while I understand the whole purpose of the entire bill, I do not think that a lot of study went into this and unfortunately I can't support it," Shrodes said.

The amendments were approved 5-2, with Shrodes and Woods voting against.

Two others were introduced by Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti and Councilman Richard Slutzky.

They would ensure the bill would not apply to projects in which developers had already applied for preliminary or site plan approval.

"The purpose is to remove any ambiguity that this bill has created," Lisanti said. "Simply stated, this bill should not be misinterpreted to be an ex post facto law. It is my opinion that retroactive legislation is simply not consistent with common law, for which we adhere to."

Those amendments passed 5-2, with Guthrie and McMahan voting against.

Council fails to vote